Home Commentary New Data on Attacks against Journalists Covering Environmental issues

New Data on Attacks against Journalists Covering Environmental issues

by caribdirect
0 comment

Key messages from a new UNESCO study and a survey among journalists 

UNESCO is dedicating World Press Freedom day to the vital connection between press freedom and the many environmental challenges the planet is current facing, including climate change. This is the first time the UN dedicates a global discussion on this correlation.

This includes promoting the safety of journalists reporting on environmental issues and a discussion on how to counter climate denial and mis/disinformation.

On World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO is publishing a new study with a quantitative and qualitative analysis of attacks committed against journalists covering the environment. The study includes three main elements:

  1. A Survey conducted by UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists that received responses from over 900 journalists from 129 countries.

The results below are based on a survey to assess the Safety of Environmental Journalists which received responses from 905 journalists, 41% of which women, from 129 countries,  including 43% of responses from Africa.

  • 948 respondents with 905 responses that can be considered for data aggregation.
  • 371 women journalists responded (41%)
  • From 129 countries. Out of a total of 895 responses:
  • Africa: 383 (43%)
  • Asia and the Pacific: 169 (19%)
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 146 (16%)
  • Europe and North America: 124 (14%)
  • Arab States: 73 (8%)
  • No responses: 10 (1%)

Attacks, threats or pressure while covering environmental issues

Over 70% of journalists surveyed reported being subject to attacks, threats or pressure while covering environmental issues


Physical attacks

Out of those journalists who were subject to attacks while covering environmental issues, 41% experienced physical attacks.


Victim of online harassment

60% of the journalists reporting being subject to attacks while covering environmental issues indicated having been victims of online harassment.


Legal attacks (i.e. lawsuits against public participation or defamation allegations)

Out of all the journalists reporting being subject to attacks while reporting on environmental issues, a quarter said they had been legally attacked.


Mental health

75% of journalists that have experienced one of these attacks said this has impacted their mental health.



Almost half of the journalists reported having to practice self-censorship, and said this was driven by fears of potential attacks, having their sources exposed to harm, and being aware that their environmental coverage might conflict with the interests of their employers or advertisers.



Over 80% of female journalists reporting being victim of attacks while reporting on environmental issues, received psychological threats or pressure

Out of all of the respondents that reported being victim of at least one attack, female respondents said they experienced digital attacks more frequently than male respondents (62%). This concurs with the Global trend identified in the Chilling report that women journalists are more prone to online violence than men.

83% of female journalists that have experienced attacks and/or threats while reporting on environmental issues said it had impacted their mental health.

42% of female journalists responding to the survey have practiced self-censorship


Climate change disinformation

Over two thirds of journalists from the survey think that climate-change-related disinformation has increased over the past years, and consider journalism is not doing enough to counter it. Out of these, 68% report that this is related to issues of conflict of interests with concerned stakeholders.

  1. Data on journalists killed while covering the environment: 
  • A total of 44 journalists reporting on environmental issues have been killed in the past 15 years, with only five cases resulting in convictions, according to UNESCO’s Observatory of Killed Journalists. Additionally, at least 24 journalists survived murder attempts.
  1. A UNESCO study on attacks committed against journalists covering the environment
  • At least 749 journalists, groups of journalists and news outlets reporting on environmental issues have been attacked in 89 countries since 2009, according to the detailed review of various data sources. These journalists and outlets covered a wide array of stories, from climate change causes, illegal mining, deforestation and fossil fuels, to issues specific to their communities like agribusiness, land grabs, mega-infrastructure projects, and the aftermath of extreme weather events.
  • Over 300 attacks occurred in the past five years, marking a 42% increase from the preceding five-year period. This surge is attributed to a rise in physical attacks like assaults, arrests and harassment, and legal actions including defamation lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.
  • State actors, such as police, military forces, government officials and employees, have committed at least half of the 749 attacks. Private actors, including extractive industry companies, criminal groups, protesters and local communities, are responsible for at least a quarter.
  • Since 2009, at least 204 journalists and news outlets covering environmental issues have faced legal attacks. Governments filed criminal charges against 93 of them, the most common type of legal attack. Moreover, 39 journalists have been imprisoned, primarily in Asia and the Pacific, in connection to their environmental reporting. Defamation lawsuits are also common with at least 63 cases, predominantly in Europe and North America.
  • There have been at least 194 journalists and news outlets attacked while covering environmental protests in the past 15 years, mainly in Europe, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean. Police and military forces are the main perpetrators with 89 attacks, while protesters account for 32 attacks.



We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.


You may also like

Leave a Comment

Copyright © 2024 CaribDirect.com | CaribDirect Multi-Media Ltd | CHOSEN CHARITY Caribbean New Frontier Foundation (CNFF) Charity #1131481

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy