Despite seismic government pledges to finance climate action in support of Indigenous, Afro-descendant and local community women and girls’ organizations, an overwhelming portion of the money has failed to reach these intended groups. Women in Global South Alliance for Tenure and Climate, a new advocacy coalition of 41 grassroots women’s organizations from Africa, Asia and Latin America, hopes to reverse these funding deficiencies.
The coalition launched at COP27, the U.N.’s climate summit held this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The alliance seeks to create an equitable shift in the climate finance landscape to ensure that the local women on the frontlines of climate action and biodiversity conservation are receiving direct, flexible and long-term funding to support their communities.
Historically, Indigenous peoples have been slow to receive their share of money earmarked for climate protection projects within their communities. A new study from two nonprofits focused on rainforest conservation — Rights and Resources Initiative and Rainforest Foundation Norway — found that just 17 percent of global climate funding meant for local, Indigenous communities is led by those populations.
The money is instead funneled through larger organizations who have the bandwidth and resources to jump over lengthy administrative hurdles introduced by donors and governments. Indigenous peoples and local community organizations receiving a fraction of the direct funding threatens to exclude them from making important decisions that can have an impact on their communities.
The funding disparity is even starker for women’s Indigenous groups. A 2017 report tracking funding data from 2010-2013 revealed that only 0.7 percent of all human rights funding went to Indigenous women’s organizations. Omaira Bolaños, director of the Latin America and Gender Justice Programs at Rights and Resources Initiative, says the alliance will “rectify this historical gap in access to direct climate finance for women and girls.”
Government and donor pledges for Indigenous rights and gender equality have ticked up in recent years. In 2021, at COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland, the governments of Canada, the U.K. and U.S. committed more than $7 billion to invest at the intersection of climate action and gender.
Funders also pledged $1.7 billion to support collective and territorial rights for Indigenous peoples and local communities. Reflecting historical funding patterns, however, reporting from Devex reveals that only 7 percent of the $1.7 billion land tenure and forest guardianship pledge has gone directly to those groups.
Despite this discouraging trend of channeling money through intermediaries, the increase in pledges presents a ripe opportunity for the newly formed Women in Global South Alliance for Tenure and Climate to influence the way the funds are ultimately dispersed. In the build up to COP27, the alliance members co-signed a call to action for governments to urgently provide direct funding to the groups who have been historically under-supported and under-funded.
Archana Soreng, a youth climate activist from the Kharia Tribe in India and a member of the U.N. Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, says Indigenous, Afro-descendant and local community women and girls should be “leaders of climate action, not victims of climate policies.”
“Climate finance must not leave Indigenous, Afro-descendant, and local community women and girls behind,” Soreng said in a press release. “We are working on a global issue that needs global perspectives which is what the formation of this new women’s alliance is about.”
Image credit: Dulcey Lima via Unsplash
Based in Atlanta, GA, Grant is a nonprofit professional and freelance writer passionate about affordable housing and finding sustainable approaches to international development. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.