Culture and Education

Guterres demands better protection for journalists on environment beat

Friday marks World Press Freedom Day and UN Secretary-General António Guterres is highlighting an uptick in violence faced by journalists covering environmental issues, which has made the profession increasingly dangerous. 

The UN chief said journalists and media workers “have a key role in informing and educating” the public about the world’s current environmental and climate emergency which stands as a threat to future generations.

It is through this work that people can have a greater understanding of environmental factors affecting the world and advocate for change, he said. 

However, based on recent UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports, journalists, especially environmental journalists, face violent attacks, and even death, for simply doing their job.  

Dozens of journalists covering illegal mining, logging, poaching and other environmental issues have been killed in recent decades,” Mr. Guterres said. But, “In the vast majority of cases, no one has been held to account.” 

Sounding the alarm

UNESCO’s report analyzed the violence environmental journalists face.

The report found that journalists and news outlets reporting on environmental issues dealt with about 750 attacks in the past 15 years, the Secretary-General said.

In an interview with UN News, Guilherme Canela, UNESCO’s Chief of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, said the report found that 70 per cent of journalists doing environmental reporting dealt with at least one form of violence, and a quarter of the surveyed journalists dealt with legal attacks. 

Additionally, Mr. Canela said that over the past 50 years, 44 journalists covering environmental stories were killed.

He said it is important to remember that journalists are important observers of conflict zones and that they provide life-saving information for civilian populations affected by these conflicts.

Mr. Canela said, “UNESCO is sounding the alarm that we need to take care of the protection of those journalists covering environmental issues, because raising that awareness about what’s going on in the environment and holding powerful actors accountable is absolutely essential to face the current environmental challenges that the planet is having.” 

Safety for all journalists 

In a statement for World Press Freedom Day, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said losing a journalist means losing a human rights defender, and that the world needs “independent, ethical and quality journalism perhaps now more than ever.

Mr. Türk said journalists – emphasising environmental journalists – need “stronger commitments from their governments and their employers to protect them”, safer work environments, and the right to work without attacks.

The Secretary-General also recognized journalists’ “invaluable” work and their efforts to keep the public informed and engaged and is calling on governments, private sectors and civil societies to recommit to protecting press freedom and the rights of journalists and media professionals globally.

Without press freedom, we won’t have any freedom,” he said. “A free press is not a choice, but a necessity.” 



  1. It’s heartbreaking to see journalists risking their lives just to inform the public about environmental issues. We need better protection for these brave individuals who play a crucial role in advocating for change.

  2. As an environmental journalist, it’s truly disheartening to see the increasing violence and threats faced by media professionals reporting on crucial environmental issues. The report mentioned in the article highlights the urgent need for better protection and accountability for those risking their lives to inform the public. It’s imperative that authorities take concrete actions to ensure the safety and freedom of journalists pursuing this vital work.

  3. Mr. Guterres is right in demanding better protection for journalists covering environmental issues. It is crucial that these journalists are safeguarded as they play a vital role in raising awareness about the threats to our environment. The escalating violence faced by them is unacceptable, and immediate actions need to be taken to ensure their safety.

  4. Mr. Guterres is absolutely right in demanding better protection for journalists covering environmental issues. It is appalling to see the increasing violence faced by these professionals who play a crucial role in educating the public about environmental concerns. The alarming number of attacks and deaths among environmental journalists must be addressed urgently. Accountability is key to ensuring their safety and preserving press freedom.

  5. What measures can be taken to ensure the safety of journalists covering environmental issues?

  6. UN Secretary-General António Guterres is absolutely right in demanding better protection for journalists on the environment beat. It’s crucial that these professionals are safeguarded as they play a vital role in raising awareness about critical environmental issues and advocating for change. It’s alarming to see the increasing violence and risks they face in simply doing their job. This issue must be addressed urgently to ensure a safer working environment for journalists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button