Protecting Tomorrow: Documenting the Courage and Resilience of Environmental Defenders in Africa 

By Natural Justice

25 May 2023, Nairobi: –   Natural Justice, in partnership with African Environmental Defenders Project, is proud to announce the launch of a groundbreaking documentary titled Protecting Tomorrow. This film sheds light on the power and activism of African environmental defenders in the face of ongoing repression highlighting their experiences in Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. 

The threats and reprisals faced by defenders include intimidation, violence, dispossession and even loss of life, particularly in areas where they confront major development projects, infrastructure initiatives, and extractive industries. By sharing their stories, the documentary aims to provide a platform for African land defenders to amplify their struggles and perspectives which are either silenced, marginalized or overlooked.  

By showcasing their experiences, the film seeks to build solidarity among defenders and movements at the forefront of the fight for biodiversity, land and climate justice, and hopes to inspire collective action, resistance and resilience at a time when reprisals against defenders are at an all-time high and when environmental justice is more urgent than ever.  

Through heartfelt testimonials and eye-opening accounts, the film seeks to unveil the risks and dangers that environmental defenders endure due to their unwavering commitment to protecting the environment and their ancestral lands. By highlighting their steadfast determination, the film calls on participants and stakeholders to act in solidarity with these defenders and take concrete steps to support their cause.  

The release of Protecting Tomorrow is timely, coinciding with the week that commemorates the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May. This day serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address pressing issues such as climate change, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, and urbanization. By emphasizing the crucial role of environmental defenders in safeguarding biodiversity, the documentary adds an important dimension to the global conversation on environmental protection. 

“This documentary was developed to highlight the struggles of environmental human rights defenders in Africa and inspire a call to action for businesses to respect the right to a clean and healthy environment and address environmental and human rights violations that are a direct result of destructive business practices. 

This year’s theme for the International Day of Biodiversity challenges the global community to explore ways to move from agreement to action to build back biodiversity. As we commemorate this day, it is important we take a moment to not only recognize environmental human rights defenders as front-line defenders of the environment but as the pillars upon which we protect biodiversity.”- Tawonga Chihana, Coordinator: African Environmental Defenders Initiative, Natural Justice. 

“I participated in this documentary to bring to light the challenges African land and environmental defenders go through while standing for the environment and their communities’ wellbeing. The documentary is spot on as it has lessons that other defenders can learn from while bringing to light our plight as defenders in the Global South.” – Chris Opio, Environmental Human Rights Defender, Uganda. 

“With our world inching closer and closer to the 1.5-degree warming limit, governments and businesses must commit to clean energy investments and lead the way to a just transition. Climate change is an urgent threat to health, food supplies, biodiversity, and livelihoods across the globe. People lose their culture and livelihoods due to the greed of our leaders. We must stop them by raising our voices. ” – Baraka Muchumu, Environmental Human Rights Defender, Tanzania. 

This documentary comes at a critical time when there are growing attacks on civic space. The effects of shrinking civic space often result in increased attacks on environmental human rights defenders. The protection of civic space requires that all persons are able to freely express their views and call to account violators of environmental human rights without fear of reprisals. Through this documentary, we shed light on extraordinary individuals who refuse to be silenced. Their unwavering dedication is a powerful reminder that defending the environment is about safeguarding our planet and the fundamental rights and freedoms we hold dear.”- Nyaguthii Chege, East Africa Hub Director, Natural Justice. 

For media inquiries contact:  

Salome Muiruri, Natural Justice,  +254721480153 

Tawonga Chihana, +254 795 953 191  

Katherine Robinson, Natural Justice,   +27 762 276 517   

25 May 2023


Climate Change, Environmental Defenders, Indigenous Rights, Resilience


Climate Change, Human Rights Defenders Fund


Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda

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