Our key takeaway: Human rights defenders (HRDs) and vibrant civic spaces are important to financial institutions (FIs), not least because they provide on-the-ground knowledge of human rights abuses, which can help FIs identify and address their human rights impacts. Despite their importance, HRDs are under increasing attacks, such as killings, harassment and reprisals, for speaking out about human rights violations perpetrated by State and non-State actors. Indeed, 401 defenders were killed in 2022 alone, and 75% of them were protesting in relation to environmental degradation and climate change. A significant percentage of these attacks were against Indigenous people, who make up only 6% of the global population and protect over 80% of the earth’s remaining biodiversity. The interconnection between human rights and the environment has never been clearer. A new report from Shift emphasizes the importance of protecting HRDs and civic space for financial institutions’ human rights due diligence (HRDD) processes and their climate and biodiversity work, and provides recommendations on how they can go about putting this into practice.
Shift published Human Rights Defenders and Shrinking Civic Space: A Guide for Financial Institutions (September 2023):