Case Study
  • Posted on December 1st, 2022

Highlighting indigenous climate activists with Index on Censorship

Illustration of a hand with red flowers round it.

Index on Censorship was established 50 years ago to provide a voice for the persecuted. Through our quarterly magazine as well as our broader output, we provide a platform for protesters and dissidents across the globe. We seek to remain adaptable in the face of new and emerging threats to freedom of expression. 


As climate change continues to impact our lives in more noticeable ways, we have noticed an increased interest in discussing topics related to the environment. Our work has highlighted the various ways in which climate change adversely impacts indigenous climate activists. This topic is often neglected. 

We observed that climate activists – in particular those belonging to indigenous communities – experience disproportionate intimidation and legal persecution. By focusing the autumn 2021 edition of the Index on Censorship magazine on climate activists, we wanted to highlight the (often forgotten) stories of grassroots movements fighting to preserve local communities, traditions, and ecosystems threatened by climate change. To celebrate the launch of the magazine, we also organised an online event which brought together American lawyer Stephen Donzinger; journalist Bethany Pitts, and Jimmy Piaguaje, member of the Siekopai community and founder of the SERA foundation.  We received overwhelmingly positive feedback following this project. We remain committed to providing a platform for censored dissidents and activists. 

We relied on a network of contributors, who produced excellent on-the-ground reporting. We worked with local journalists and activists in Australia, the United States and Latin America and obtained first-hand interviews with members of indigenous communities. We received project funding from Clifford Chance in addition to relying on existing financial support from the Arts Council and Fritt Ord. 

Environmental consciousness and sustainability extends beyond our internal practices. For us, sustainable practices also consider the impacts of climate change on a broader scale. Climate debates can too often focus on high-level conversations in forums such as the annual UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. However, Index has always opted to highlight the voices which are too often silenced or forgotten. We will continue to monitor intimidations and threats against climate activists.