Governments must protect environmental journalists, says RSF on Earth Day

On the occasion of Earth Day, celebrated on 22 April, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on governments to step up protection for environmental reporters, who are encountering growing difficulties.

"From physical attacks to intimadation suits and restrictions on access to information driven by economic or political interests, environmental journalism finds itself at the crossroads of the threats to press freedom. On the occasion of Earth Day, we deplore the obstacles to the right to information about ecological and climate issues and call on all countries to recognise the essential nature of the work of environmental journalists, and to guarantee their safety.

Arthur Grimonpont
Head of RSF's Global Challenges Desk

Risking their lives to cover the environment

In the past ten years, according to RSF’s tally, nearly 200 journalists have been subjected to threats and physical violence, including murder, because they were working on stories linked to the environment. Asia and Latin America are the two most dangerous regions for environmental journalists. Twenty-four have been murdered there in the past decade in connection with their reporting – seven in Latin America and 17 in Asia.

Nearly half of the journalists killed in India in the past ten years – 13 of 28 – were working on environmental stories that often also involved corruption and organised crime, especially the so-called “sand mafia,” which illegally excavates millions of tons of this precious resource for the construction industry.

The latest journalist to be murdered for covering an environmental story was also in Asia. It was Cresenciano Bunduquin, a Philippine radio journalist know by his listeners as “Cris”. He was gunned down as he left his home on 31 May 2023 after reporting in one of his latest radio shows that the operating permit of an old tanker responsible for a recent oil spill had been forged.

On the other side of the Pacific, in South America, journalists covering the crucial challenges of deforestation in the Amazon are also constantly subjected to threats and harassment that prevent them from working freely. The scale of the problem was highlighted in 2022 by the double murder of Dom Phillips, a British reporter specialising in environmental issues, and Bruno Araújo Pereira, a Brazilian who defended the Amazon’s Indigenous communities.

Published on