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Women environmental human rights defenders in Nepal and the Philippines: unpacking the (mal)development–disaster risk relationship through lived experiences

The study suggests that the knowledge, skills and activism of women environmental human rights defenders (WEHRDs) have the potential to break the relationship between maldevelopment and disasters.

Camille Pross / Published on 27 December 2022
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Citation

Pross, C. (2022). Women Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Nepal and the Philippines: Unpacking the (Mal)Development–Disaster Risk Relationship Through Lived Experiences. SEI report. Stockholm Environment Institute. https://doi.org/10.51414/sei2022.055

Infographic

Graphic: Tofu Creatives.

The term WEHRDs encompasses many realities, from isolated rural women protecting their environment from threats because their livelihoods depend on natural resources, to women consciously organizing for socioenvironmental justice and holding duty-bearers accountable for the protections of their environmental and human rights.

This study unpacks the relations between maldevelopment and disaster risks through the lived experiences of WEHRDs. It shows how inadequate development planning can magnify the vulnerability of marginalized groups and increase their exposure to hazards, therefore creating higher disaster risks. These experiences of vulnerability can trigger social movements and diverse forms of mobilization in which WEHRDs demonstrate their concerns. The study takes a deep dive into the strategies used by WEHRDs at multiple scales, with potential to mend the relationship between maldevelopment and disasters.

The aim of this report is to inform integrated development and disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and programming that respect and protect environmental and human rights, while actively trying to address the root causes of vulnerability to maldevelopment and disaster risk.

With a geographic focus on Nepal and the Philippines, this study is informed by 42 key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) conducted between 2019 and 2021 with a total of 58 respondents across the two countries. The sample includes organizations and individuals that explicitly identify as WEHRDs, but also civil society organizations (CSOs) and national institutions working broadly on issues of gender equality, Indigenous peoples’ rights, environmental issues and human rights.

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