Fatal pressure on natural resources

Dr Nathalie Butt1, Dr  Fran Lambrick2, Dr  Mary Menton3, Dr Anna Renwick1

1The University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia

2Not 1 More www.not1more.org, London, UK

3The University of Sussex, Falmer, UK


From 2002 to 2017, 1558 environmental defenders in 50 countries have been killed. The victims include community activists, lawyers, journalists, NGO staff, park rangers, and indigenous leaders. During the last fifteen years, the number of both deaths of environmental defenders, and the countries where they occur, has increased: recorded deaths have increased from two per week to four per week over this period. The reasons for these deaths are primarily related to conflict over natural resources, across a range of sectors but in particular mining and agribusiness: > 230 deaths between 2014 and 2017. We find that, importantly, rule of law and corruption indices are most closely linked to patterns of killings. We investigate the drivers of these conflicts and violence, seek to identify who may be most at risk, and why, and argue that businesses, investors, and national governments at both ends of the chain of violence, need to be more accountable. The silencing of voices proximate to the frontline has a chilling effect globally: if people are afraid to speak up or campaign, this could lead to the silencing of important environmental and conservation issues even in theoretically safe and non-corrupt countries.


Nathalie Butt is an environmental and conservation scientist whose work focuses largely on climate and biodiversity interactions. Recent research has covered the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems, and human-nature interactions.

She gained her doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2009 and is currently on a Discovery Early Career Research Award from the ARC, based at the University of Queensland.


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