Private philanthropy has been stepping up with unprecedented commitments targeting this convergence of the biodiversity and climate crises, such as the $5 billion pledge made at the UN Biodiversity Summit last year, supported by the Bezos Earth Fund and seven other organizations.

A key element of these new financial commitments is an increased emphasis on locally driven solutions and organizations, in recognition of the central role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in protecting and restoring ecosystems. For example, the COP26 Climate Summit in November also featured a pledge of $1.7 billion from northern government aid agencies and private foundations to support stronger indigenous land tenure, as a key investment in forest conservation and hence reduced carbon emissions.

The growing focus on grassroots conservation efforts builds on decades of work by scientists and policymakers that document the central importance of community-level action for nature conservation, and a recognition that for climate change and biodiversity loss to be addressed, IPLCs must be at the forefront of the action and effective support. For example, the UN FAO and WWF both released major reports in 2021 highlighting the scope and effectiveness of conservation efforts by Indigenous Peoples and local communities all around the world. The WWF report notes that over 90 percent of all IPLC lands – which make up at least one-third of the total global land area – are in good ecological condition. Roughly a quarter of all the land in the Amazon Basin is legally controlled by IPLCs, and the forest on those lands is often in better condition than in adjacent private lands or even state-protected areas. In African countries such as Kenya and Namibia, where the majority of wildlife resides on community and private lands rather than in national parks, local conservation areas community conservancies now help protect roughly 11 percent and 20 percent of the total land area in those two respective countries and are at the fore of national conservation policies and commitments.

During the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has further stressed the critical importance of local leadership and capacity for conservation, as organizations with grassroots presence, capacity, and constituencies have been able to sustain community-level responses and support, while many international initiatives faced greater constraints on their ability to operate.

Read the full article about climate change funding by Fred Nelson and John Kamanga at Alliance Magazine.