An innovative new grant program for fighting forest loss is putting project design and funding decisions in the hands of indigenous peoples and local communities and giving them the power to set priorities and implement programs aimed at conserving their natural environment.
Several members of forest communities say they see it as a unifying platform they can use to make their voices heard and to tackle forest loss and climate change on their own terms.
The program, called the Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM), is financed by the Climate Investment Funds as a special initiative of the Forest Investment Program and was recently approved by the World Bank Board of Directors. It will be implemented at both global and national levels in countries implementing the Forest Investment Program.
“We have never had this kind of program before … we have the ownership of this program,” said Mina Setra, from Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), one of the largest organizations of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia, who represents the Kalimantan region of Indonesia on the DGM national steering committee. “I think this is a good opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to exercise our capacities in managing programs and also funding. That is what is unique about the dedicated grant mechanism.”
Designed by and for Indigenous Peoples and local communities
Forests play an important role in our world. They help combat climate change by absorbing about 15 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions and also provide economic, social and environmental services – from creating jobs to providing housing and food to protecting the watershed. An estimated 1.3 billion people, or nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, rely on forests and forest products for their livelihoods.
But forest-dependent communities are among the most marginalized in the world, with the majority living on less than $1.25 per day. And deforestation not only damages their surroundings, but it also adds to the carbon footprint.
World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte welcomed the Board’s approval of the new program. “This global mechanism fully recognizes the vital role communities play in the stewardship of forests and is the first to ensure that indigenous people and forest dependent communities will design, implement and govern the program according to their own priorities,” Kyte said.
Designed by and for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, the DGM has two components: country-specific projects and a global learning and exchange project that links all the country projects and serves as a global outreach platform.
Funding agroforestry in the Cerrado
So far, funding has been approved for the global learning project (nearly $5 million) and for the first of the country series in Brazil, where $6.5 million was approved for a project in the Cerrado region, a massive expanse of wooded grasslands that makes up more than 20 percent of Brazil. That money will be used in part to help finance agroforestry initiatives based on native and adapted fruits, to help pay for processing units for agriculture and non-timber forest products and also to help with production and commercialization of handicrafts.