As world leaders gathered in Paris to negotiate a new climate agreement in December 2015, more than 600,000 people in 175 countries marched in support of the process. Meanwhile, the French government used emergency powers, originally intended to fight terrorism, to put two dozen environmental advocates under house arrest for the duration of the negotiations.

In the United States, Native American leaders led highly publicized protests to protect the lands and waters of the Standing Rock Sioux from oil pipeline construction. Now, proposed bills in at least 17 states aim to limit environmental protests against “critical infrastructure” such as oil and gas pipelines, and several states have successfully enacted such laws.

As environmental groups achieve greater conservation success and public attention, they must also reckon with a new reality of restrictions on their work that is rapidly increasing in scope and scale. For environmental and conservation funders, these restrictions limit the ability to achieve key program outcomes, whether in wildlife protection, forest conservation, or climate change mitigation.

Civil society organizations and their funders are finding ways to engage and intervene at the earliest stages of restrictions on civil society, when advocates are faced with public stigmatization and bureaucratic hurdles, rather than waiting until they are jailed or murdered.

We’ve identified some common tactics that environmental funders are using to help grantees deal with the closing civil society space. These approaches are relevant for funders working in other sectors facing similar challenges and restrictions.

  • Supporting physical and digital security
  • Investing in women leaders and resilient funding practices
  • Managing risk together
  • Defending the rule of law

Read the full article about environmental action funders by David Gordon and Chris Allan at Stanford Social Innovation Review.