This represents a significant spike from 164 murders in 2018, and the actual number is likely much higher, the NGO said, adding that the cases are often undocumented.
Defenders are those who take a stand against human rights and environmental violations caused by the exploitation of natural resources, according to Global Witness.
Colombia was the deadliest country in 2019 with 64 murders – up from 24 in 2018 – and accounted for 30% of the world total last year.
It is also home to Honduras, the country with the largest percentage increase in killings, which rose from four in 2018 to 14 last year.
Europe remains the least affected region, with two murders in Romania linked to illegal logging. Seven killings have been recorded in Africa, but case verification is a problem in the region, Global Witness said.
Mining was the deadliest sector, with 50 people killed, followed by agribusiness with 34.
Asia was a hotspot for agribusiness-related attacks, accounting for 85% of the global total. Of those, almost 90% took place in the Philippines.
There were also 24 logging-related killings, an 85% increase from 2018 and the biggest spike of any industry.
Many activists are also silenced by arrests, prosecutions, threats and violent attacks, according to the report, and indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected.
In 2019, 40% of defenders killed were indigenous, despite the fact that these communities represent only 5% of the world’s population.
Women defenders face a specific set of threats, according to Global Witness. Women represent 10% of those killed in 2019, but they also face smear campaigns using sexist or sexual content, as well as sexual violence, the NGO said.
Global Witness highlighted the work of advocates in fighting climate degradation by opposing carbon-intensive industries.
“Agribusiness and oil, gas and mining have always been the main drivers of attacks on land and environmental defenders – and these are also the industries that are pushing us further in climate change. galloping through deforestation and increasing carbon emissions, ”Rachel Cox, activist at Global Témoin, said in a press release.
“If we are serious about developing plans for a green recovery that puts people’s safety, health and well-being at the heart, we must address the root causes of attacks on defenders and follow their lead in protecting the environment. environment and the fight against the climate. breakdown. ”
The report also highlights several successes for advocates around the world, praising them for their resilience.
One example is the indigenous Dayak Iban community in central Borneo, Indonesia, which now holds legal ownership of 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of land after a decades-long struggle.
Another is the indigenous Waorani tribe in Ecuador, which won a landmark ruling banning the government from selling its land for oil and gas exploration.