Indigenous Peoples are among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change.  Their close relationship with the environment means more extreme weather is exacerbating the difficulties they face and in some countries even threatening their survival.  They can also utilize their traditional knowledge to help tackle climate change.  So for climate investments to work effectively and for this knowledge to drive innovative solutions, Indigenous Peoples must be part of the design and implementation of climate-smart interventions.  

Credit: E. Benavides/Thomson Reuters Foundation

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) recently spoke to many representatives from Indigenous Peoples Organizations and networks at a side event of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) hosted by the United States Permanent Mission to the UN.  CIF Program Manager Mafalda Duarte shared CIF’s work in this area, the lessons we are learning and our forthcoming plans. 

Duarte spoke about a number of areas, beginning with the Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM.)  This is a unique program funded by the Climate Investment Funds through its Forest Investment Program and led by the World Bank in nearly 14 countries.  This is the largest program of its kind that places funds directly to the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to address the climate mitigation and adaptation issues they prioritize.

Credit: World Bank

The most unique aspect of the DGM is its governance. The governing bodies at the global and country level are led by self-selected Indigenous and local community members. So project design and funding decisions are in the hands of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, giving them the power to set priorities and implement programs aimed at conserving their natural environment.

As Duarte said: “It was the representatives of Indigenous Peoples globally who helped design this and decide on how it should be implemented and that’s what makes it innovative.  It’s always satisfying to me when Indigenous Peoples speak so highly of the program and would like to see it replicated in even more countries. ”

Credit: E. Benavides/Thomson Reuters Foundation

As well as sharing our experiences of the DGM, the CIF also updated the audience on our progress with the newly initiated Stakeholder Advisory Network (SAN.)  This builds on our experience in engaging stakeholders at all levels, which was complimented by Grace Balawag from Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education) who believes the CIF can offer a model which others can learn from: “The CIF platform for governance has defined guidelines on IP engagement and we would like this to be replicated in other climate investments, programs or mechanisms.”

Credit: E. Benavides/Thomson Reuters Foundation

Very practically, this Network will include partnership, networking, capacity building and information and experience sharing, provision of resources includes research and information materials, advocacy strengthening, coalition building, monitoring, evaluation, and engagement. 

The CIF is also expanding its work on traditional knowledge and technology with a report that looks at how these assets can contribute to climate solutions   As Mirna Cunningham, Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI), said: “We have a lot of traditional knowledge systems that have been proven to maintain and conserve nature.  And we have gained capacity to share this with other people.  If this knowledge can really be included into policies related to climate change, I think we’d see good results.”