Innovative Grant Program Helps Communities Fight Forest Loss

March 31, 2015


Edivaldo Apinaje, a health agent from the Apinaje tribe in Tocantins, shows a cashew fruit sprouting on a tree branch.

Photos by Mariana Kaipper Ceratti/World Bank

  • Forest-dependent communities are among the most marginalized in the world. Deforestation has an impact on both their surroundings and their livelihoods.
  • The new Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM), designed by and for those communities and financed by the Forest Investment Program, puts Indigenous Peoples and local communities in charge of design and funding decisions for projects that fight forest loss.
  • The first DGM project is in Brazil, where $6.5 million was approved to help finance agroforestry initiatives based on native and adapted fruits in the Cerrado region.

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.


Two Quilombola women participate in the first consultations for the Cerrado project.

" We understand the importance this will have for our projects. Not only for our projects but also for conservation and our fight to keep the Cerrado standing. "

Januario Tseredzaro

The country programs like Brazil’s will also enhance leadership and negotiation skills to give indigenous people and local community members an opportunity to actively participate in initiatives related to natural resource-based mitigation and climate change adaptation.

“This project is very important for supporting the indigenous communities here in the Cerrado,” said, Deborah Wetzel, World Bank Country Director for Brazil. “The proposed project will provide the tools to access resources that will help communities manage the environmental and social impacts of their activities.”

Januario Tseredzaro, a member of the Xavante people who lives in the Cerrado, agrees. He says the new Dedicated Grant Mechanism will help Indigenous Peoples as they seek to halt deforestation.

“We understand the importance this will have for our projects. Not only for our projects but also for conservation and our fight to keep the Cerrado standing,” Tseredzaro said. “I hope that its success will expand the program to other biomes of Brazil.”

On a global level, the Global Learning and Knowledge Exchange Project, to be implemented by Conservation International USA, will help train representatives from indigenous groups and local communities to take part in climate negotiations and to ensure their views are represented. The country programs expand on that training but also include more country-specific initiatives.

More countries will soon be proposing their own projects under the Dedicated Grant Mechanism. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Peru are in the process of setting up the institutional arrangements for the program in their countries and will be operational later this year.