Violence against human rights defenders (HRDs), especially those defending land, natural resources and the environment, has been exacerbated in the context of COVID. Communities and individuals find themselves isolated and vulnerable while authorities tasked with their protection are withdrawn and overstretched. To create an enabling environment for HRDs and ensure their protection, all threats, attacks and killings must be documented and monitored by a competent national authority, yet even before COVID, data on such attacks was notably sparse. Available data for SDG 16.10.1, documenting the killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of HRDs, journalists, media workers and trade unionists, tells part of this story. Currently, there is not enough data to provide national estimates for violence against these groups. Despite authorities acknowledging the heightened vulnerability of those defenders who protect the land and the environment, including indigenous people, data is not sufficiently disaggregated to characterize these patterns of violence and, as a result, is not being used to build better, evidence-based policies that would protect these defenders. While State parties are ultimately responsible for the protection of HRDs and the enforcement of international commitments to protect human rights, their ability to monitor, collect and report data on the situation of these defenders remains limited, hindering the development of effective protections. This session will review the state of available data with State, UN, and civil society actors, describe cases of successful reporting and propose a coordinated path towards better data for SDG 16.10.1 and a safer environment for HRDs.