The New York City-based Ford Foundation has announced a five-year, $85 million commitment to help make rural and indigenous people a stronger part of the world's response to climate change.
Through a new initiative, the foundation aims to help low-income populations in forest, grassland, marginal agricultural land, and other rural regions of Brazil, Indonesia, China, Eastern Africa, Mexico and Central America, and India play a more active role in the stewardship of the resources around them, based on the belief that engaging these populations is essential to reducing poverty and building long-term climate solutions.
In partnership with NGOs, governments, other funders, and the rural communities themselves, the initiative will work to develop the advocacy skills of rural leaders so they have a stronger voice in how natural resources are managed; demonstrate successful models of community management of resources and bring lessons learned to bear on national and global policy; promote public investment that benefits rural communities and acknowledges their role as stewards of valuable natural assets; ensure that global climate change programs account for and address the needs of indigenous communities and the rural poor; and strengthen institutions and networks that advance this approach.
Although rural communities in these areas depend on the natural resources around them for their livelihoods, most do not have the rights to access or use them or suffer from a lack of public investment in the productivity of natural resources. With some 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions coming from the rural sector, the work of engaging rural and indigenous people in sustainable solutions has significant implications for efforts to reduce climate change, according to the foundation.
"This work heralds a new way of thinking about natural resources and sustainable development. It unlocks the potential for people, especially rural and indigenous communities, to be a part of the solution," said Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas. "As sustainable development programs are ramped up globally, we have the responsibility of ensuring that the people who have historically lived in and preserved forests and natural resources are included in the global dialogue about the future of their lands."