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World Press Freedom Day 2024: A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis.

A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis.

DefendDefenders joins the rest of the world to commemorate world press freedom day whose focus this year is on journalism in the face of the environmental crisis.  This years’s theme emphasises the importance of journalism and the right to freedom of expression in the current deteriorating global environmental crisis illustrated by among others climate change effects primarily due to un regulated human activities.

DefendDefenders recognises and values the pivotal role of journalists in raising awareness of urgent environmental issues and advocating for increased protection of the environment at the local and global levels. DefendDefenders reaffirms its unwavering commitment to their protection, urging states to fulfil their domestic and international obligations to safeguard the rights of journalists, including environmental journalists. It also calls for an end to impunity for attacks against journalists, holding those who violate press freedom accountable.

The international ecological crisis demands credible, independent, and accessible journalism to inform public debate, inspire people to protect their environment, and demand accountability for adverse effects. In the face of increased globalisation and thriving business initiatives, environmental journalists are critical in exposing corrupt practices, human rights violations, and abuses, including pollution, destruction of forest covers, and forceful evictions. Their work is not just important but essential for our collective understanding and action. 

Despite their importance, environmental journalists often face serious risks related to safety and the press freedom situation in their operating regions. The 2023 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders (RSF) paints a grim picture, indicating a severe threat to journalism globally. The situation is even more alarming in Africa, classified as ‘bad’ in nearly 40% of its countries, a significant increase from 33% in 2022. Africa also recorded the highest falls in ranking, with Senegal experiencing the highest drop, falling 31 places. These increasing threats to press freedom further compound the risks faced by environmental journalists, making their safety a pressing concern.

UNESCO’s report of over 750 attacks on environmental journalists in the past 15 years is a chilling reminder of the dangers they face. These journalists navigate complex power dynamics between organized crime groups, corporations, and local authorities, often resorting to undercover reporting to access restricted areas. This not only raises ethical considerations but also exposes them to additional risks. Understanding these risks is paramount, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive action to protect these journalists. 

“On this World Press Freedom Day, DefendDefenders recognises and celebrates environmental journalists’ bravery and resilience. They are the frontline human rights defenders, risking their safety and security to bring us the truth’’  Hassan Shire, Executive Director DefendDefenders

For more information, please contact:

Estella Kabachwezi
Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +256 200 760 707 (English)

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