Major foundations, western nations pledge $1.7bn for Indigenous communities to protect forests


Elika Roohi


GLASGOW – An alliance of 17 major climate foundations, alongside the UK, US, Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands, have pledged to invest $1.7 billion to help Indigenous and local communities to protect tropical forests. Among the foundations involved in the pledge are the Ford Foundation, CIFF, Oak, Hewlett, and the Bezos Earth Fund.

The financial commitment is part of ambitious global efforts to reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 and leaves campaigners cautiously hopeful that COP could be the first to properly champion Indigenous peoples’ rights. The integrity and biodiversity of tropical forests are vital to protecting the planet from climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemic risk, according to an announcement made at COP26.

‘This is a real solution that will deliver outcomes, as well as climate justice,’ said Kevin Currey, Programme Officer for Natural Resources and Climate Change at the Ford Foundation, speaking at an event on funding the justice reset today, hosted by Climate Justice – Just Transition.

The key of this funding pledge is the communities to which it is promised.

As the fight for Indigenous rights has been more public in recent years, Indigenous communities have faced increasing persecution. In 2020, a record number of people were killed for protecting their land, with more than a third from Indigenous communities.

Despite the important role they play in protecting forests, only a small fraction of these communities have secure rights to their land. Indigenous communities manage half the world’s land and care for an astonishing 80 per cent of Earth’s biodiversity. However, these same communities receive less than one per cent of the climate funding meant to reduce deforestation.

‘Forests are more likely to remain standing when local people can advocate for them,’ Currey said today.

For years, only about $270 million annual has been dedicated to forest protection each year. This new funding pledge will substantially increase that figure.

Other philanthropic organizations committed to the pledge are the Christensen Fund, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Sobrato Philanthropies, Good Energies Foundation. And, as part of the Protecting our Planet Challenge members, the Arcadia, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, Re:wild, Rob and Melani Walton Foundation and the Wyss Foundation are also committed.

Speaking about the commitment today, Correy cited the fact that half the world’s land is managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities, then added: ‘they should at least get half the funding.’

For more on climate philanthropy at COP26 see our COP reporting portal, and follow @charleskeidan and @eroohi on Twitter.

Elika Roohi is Digital Editor at Alliance.

Tagged in: COP26

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This is a record number of people were killed for protecting their land, with more than a third from Indigenous communities.

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