25 Funders Must Channel More Direct Funding to IP and LC Organizations and Spread Resources More Evenly Across the World; Global Climate and Biodiversity Goals at Risk

SHARM EL SHEIKH (7 NOVEMBER 2022) — A broad coalition of 25 governments and private philanthropic entities released the first progress report on the US$1.7B pledged for the tenure rights and forest guardianship of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IP and LC). Three new funders joined the pledge in 2022, showing a growing impetus to achieve this goal, and 19% of the pledge amount was delivered — although that money was mostly channeled through international and national NGOs and far less to the organizations of IP and LC themselves.

In 2023, the funders must increase capacity-building support and utilize the more direct funding pathways and organizations that are being established by IP and LC themselves. Funders should also spread their grants more evenly across tropical regions, otherwise, the twin global crises of climate change and biodiversity extinction might tip past the point of no return.

The IP and LC Forest Tenure Pledge is linked to the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) Global Forest Finance Pledge, the overarching COP26 forest pledge and the parallel Congo Basin Pledge. All four pledges have a shared focus of protecting forests and recognizing the importance of IP and LC as forest guardians. A recent assessment of the progress made on stopping global deforestation by 2030 found that initial progress was too slow to meet the overall goal.

The UN’s 2022 Climate Change Report underscores the importance of this work. The expert panel of scientists advising UN climate negotiators cited the urgent need to recognize Indigenous peoples’ rights and to support Indigenous knowledge-based adaptation, calling Indigenous peoples “critical to reducing climate change risks and effective adaptation (with very high confidence).”

“IP and LC live at the center of a global climate and biodiversity crisis. There is strong evidence that their solutions to climate mitigation and protecting nature are highly effective, but they only receive a tiny fraction of the climate finance that they need to protect forests,” said Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). “The ambition behind the COP26 Forest Tenure Pledge was to address this gap. This first donor report demonstrates progress, but we must step up global efforts to strengthen the capacity of IP and LC organizations and ensure a greater share of climate finance reaches forest communities. The UK will continue to work in partnership with IP and LC and other donors and stakeholders to address this challenge and to deliver on the Pledge commitments in the coming years.”

“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,” said Anthony Bebbington, director of the Ford Foundation’s Natural Resources and Climate Change program. “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.”

In 2021, pledge donors spent $320,877,038, or 19% of the $1.7B that was pledged at COP26. The largest share of this funding (39%) was directed to Latin American initiatives, with 38% spent on global projects. Sixteen percent was allocated to projects in Africa and 7% to Southeast Asia.

Of the total funding, 80% was aimed at building IP and LC capacity or supporting community advocacy and participation in national tenure reform. Only 7% of total funding went directly to IP- or LC-led organizations, while approximately half was channeled through international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 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.

To date, indirect funding through intermediaries has often been the only way for donors to provide support to IP and LC in many countries. Over the past year and a half, however, a number of innovative funding mechanisms managed by IP and LC directly have been announced; they would be able to channel funding without needing third-party support. Moving forward, many pledge donors have signaled that they will take advantage of this innovation.

“The world’s top climate scientists have called for strengthening the rights and the role of IP and LC. We are a climate risk mitigation strategy, and a just solution for addressing climate change,” said Levi Sucre, Co-Chair to the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities. “Yet the challenges faced by well-meaning donors seeking to support us are not unique. “To help us succeed, our governments must recognize our rights, and the entire system for financing climate solutions must overcome long established bureaucratic systems and beliefs about our capacities that prevent us from accessing climate funds that we are capable of managing for the benefit of all.”


IP and LC manage half the world’s land and care for an astonishing 80% of Earth’s biodiversity, primarily under customary tenure arrangements. A 2021 study showed, however, that Indigenous communities and organizations receive less than 1% of the climate funding meant to reduce deforestation.

Researchers suggest that forests can contribute as much as 37% toward climate mitigation goals that governments committed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Protecting forests, which harbor precious biodiversity, also helps to prevent encounters with wildlife that can encourage the spillover of potentially dangerous pathogens into human populations.

A growing body of evidence shows that IP are the most effective guardians of biodiverse tropical forests, which are increasingly under siege; UN experts recently urged climate negotiators at COP26 to respond with urgency to the destruction of precious ecosystems.

Among the philanthropic groups that joined the pledge were the Ford Foundation, The Christensen Fund, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Sobrato Philanthropies, Good Energies Foundation, Oak Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and, as part of the Protecting Our Planet Challenge members, Arcadia, Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, Re:wild, Rob and Melani Walton Foundation and Wyss Foundation. The Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, Bobolink Foundation, and the International Conservation Fund of Canada joined the pledge in 2022. The Funders Group, which was established in 2022 and chaired by the United Kingdom, will report annually on Pledge progress.

For more information, please contact:
Wanda Bautista, [email protected], Tel + 1 302-233-5438

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Media Contacts

Press Line
Tel (+1) 212-573-5128
Fax (+1) 212-351-3643
[email protected]