Natural Resources and Climate Change

Throughout the Global South, the extraction of natural resources—metals, minerals, forests, and fossil fuels—is growing rapidly, causing severe environmental damage and social harm, particularly to indigenous and rural communities. Added to that, weak governance and corruption mean that revenues from extraction disproportionately benefit big corporations and all too commonly bypass the communities of origin entirely.

Indigenous peoples and local communities with secure rights to their land are the best defenders of the natural environment. Currently, communities with these rights prevent at least 300 billion metric tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere by stopping deforestation of their lands. Yet, while indigenous peoples and local communities claim customary rights over at least half the world’s lands and forests, they have legally recognized rights to own or use just 18 percent.

Our goal is to foster agency among rural communities in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Indonesia—helping them to secure land rights and have their say in the planning of projects. They should enjoy their fair share of revenues when projects do occur and receive compensation when there are injurious outcomes.

Additionally, we work with companies and governments to reduce illicit finance, corruption, tax evasion, and environmental crimes associated with the natural resource sector, and to redirect associated savings toward programs that help reduce inequality.

More from Natural Resources and Climate Change

Director, West Africa
Lagos, Nigeria
Director, Andean Region
Bogotá, Colombia
Program Officer, Natural Resources and Climate Change
New York, USA
International Program Director, Natural Resources and Climate Change
New York, USA
CLUA Officer
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
International Program Director, Civic Engagement and Government; Director, Mexico and Central America
Mexico City, Mexico
Director, Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Program Officer, Natural Resources and Climate Change
Mexico City, Mexico
Program Officer, Natural Resources and Climate Change
New York, USA
International Program Director, Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice; Director, Southern Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
Director, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Grants Manager, Natural Resources and Climate Change
New York, USA
Program Officer, Natural Resources and Climate Change
New York, USA

Anticipated Outcomes

Secure land rights

Rural and indigenous communities in resource-rich regions of will have their land rights recognized by governments and private companies.

Consent for investment projects

Communities will increasingly have a say in shaping development projects that might affect their culture, traditions, and land. Governments and companies, as well as courts, will validate community rights to free, prior, and informed consent.

Fairer distribution of benefits

Companies will distribute proceeds from natural resource projects more equitably to benefit both local communities and government budgets.

Good governance and transparency

Companies and governments will work together to reduce illicit financial flows, corruption, tax evasion, and environmental crimes related to natural resources. Companies will raise standards for how they produce, trade, and source natural resources to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. Governments will use proceeds from projects to support sustainable, equitable development.

Empowered communities

Indigenous and rural communities will create alliances that enable them to influence both local and global decisions affecting their land.

More accurate narratives

Narratives about climate change and natural resources will reflect the needs and perspectives of rural communities and other low-income groups.

Mobilized resources

There will be more funding resources for grassroots organizations and communities focused on natural resources.

What we don’t fund

We know nonprofit staff’s time is valuable, so we discourage using it to submit proposals that don’t fall within funding guidelines. In this spirit, we aim to be transparent about what our grant making does not support.

We do not fund initiatives that primarily focus on water resources and agriculture, or adaptation to climate change.