$1.7bn pledged, $321m given away: Where are we on COP26’s commitment to protecting forests?


Alliance magazine


Following last year’s commitment of $1.7 billion to Indigenous and local communities to support their work protecting tropical forests, research out today has found that one-fifth of those funds have actually reached grantees – the rest remains to be disbursed, as threats to the climate intensify.

The commitment of $1.7 billion was made at last November’s COP in Glasgow by 17 major climate foundations including Ford, CIFF, OAK, Hewlett, and the Bezos Earth Fund, alongside the governments of the UK, US, Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The research, which was released in a progress report produced by a broad coalition of governments and foundations, found that of the almost $321 million spent, most was directed to international and national NGOs, and far less was given to the organisations of Indigenous peoples and local communities themselves.

The UN’s 2022 Climate Change Report underscores the importance of advancing with this work as urgently as possible. The expert panel of scientists advising UN climate negotiators cited the pressing need to recognize Indigenous peoples’ rights and to support Indigenous knowledge-based adaptation, saying Indigenous peoples are ‘critical to reducing climate change risks’.

Anthony Bebbington, director of the Ford Foundation’s Natural Resources and Climate Change programme, said: ‘We in the philanthropic community must find ways to accelerate direct financial transfers to the organizations of IP and other LC. This means looking critically at our own practices and working urgently with these organizations as they develop mechanisms to absorb these funds.’

Of the funding that was disbursed, the largest share of this funding (39 per cent) was directed to Latin American initiatives, with 38 per cent spent on global projects. Sixteen per cent was allocated to projects in Africa and seven per cent to Southeast Asia.

Of the total funding, 80 per cent was aimed at building IP and LC capacity or supporting community advocacy and participation in national tenure reform. Only six per cent of total funding went directly to IP- or LC-led organizations, while approximately half was channelled through INGOs. Even though a significant share of NGO funding was ultimately provided to IP and LC organizations, in the form of regranted funding or capacity-building support, the report authors highlighted this pattern as one that needs to be fixed.

COP27 began today in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, set against the backdrop of the worst geopolitical tensions for years from the Ukraine war, spiralling global cost of living, and deepening economic gloom. The warnings of inaction are also getting more dire. UN secretary-general António Guterres has warned that without a historic pact coming out of this year’s COP, ‘we will be doomed’.

‘This is urgent. On the ground, IP and LC are faced with increasingly hostile contexts at the same time as the crises of climate change and species extinction hammer their lands and livelihoods. Yet these communities continue to innovate and devise solutions to the global crises we all face; scaling these innovations requires that they receive much more direct financial support’, said Bebbington.

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