Ford launches rural climate-change effort

PJ staff report

Over the next five years, the Ford Foundation plans to award $85 million in grants to help rural and indigenous people better advocate for their local natural resources and combat climate change.

By helping these populations understand their rights, Ford hopes they will play a larger role in the protecting their natural resources, while also boosting their livelihoods, which in many cases are based on the land.

The foundation plans to work with government entities and other funders to encourage investment in climate-change programs that impact rural areas in six geographical focus areas — Brazil, Indonesia, China, Eastern Africa, Mexico and Central America.

“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,” Luis Ubiñas, president of the foundation, says in a statement.

Almost a third of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions come from rural areas, and as programs are designed to deal with those emissions, the foundation aims to have local people as part of the solution.

And with their livelihoods depending upon clean land and water, these local populations stand to benefit from programs and policies that encourage sustainability.

Ford’s grants will be used to help develop advocacy skills among local population, create and highlight successful models of community management of resources, encourage public investment that acknowledges the rights and potential of local people and make sure climate-change programs address the needs of the rural poor and indigenous populations.

“We believe that incorporating the voices of the people who live on these lands will bring three positive outcomes — strengthening communities and boosting local economic activity while advancing the health and sustainability of the environment,” Ubiñas says. “There is the potential for a triple-bottom-line impact from this approach.”

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