Coalition formation and financial mechanisms driving the uptake of Nature-based Solutions and increasing recognition of indigenous peoples  

Indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) share a strong bond with their landscapes and seascapes. At least a quarter of the global land area is owned and sustainably managed by indigenous peoples. IPLCs conservation efforts can, thus, play a significant role in climate change mitigation. They also apply their traditional and local knowledge to adapt to change in climate and apply nature-based solutions (NbS) to ensure their livelihood and protect their communities from natural disasters. 

However, indigenous peoples’ rights, governance, and roles in tackling climate change are being undermined. The recent IUCN guideline for NbS promotes inclusive, transparent, and having an empowering governance process in natural lands and its gaining traction in global climate change policy and advocacy discourse. Thus, It is crucial to acknowledge the synergy between IPLCs traditional knowledge, conservation efforts and NbS to tackle climate change. 

This can be the impetus to form a coalition to enhance the rights of indigenous peoples to implement NbS persistently for halting climate change. The coalition can include a diverse range of actors such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), private sectors, and government. The potential coalitions can focus on the capacity building of indigenous peoples to enhance their rights, participation, and governance. This will aid to influence action-oriented capacity-building through knowledge generation by incorporating indigenous traditional and local knowledge for preservation. The future coalition can also emphasize research, to consolidate disaggregated data on indigenous peoples and gather evidence-based approaches of IPLC-led NbS approaches. Moreover, the coalition can advocate for inclusive policy-making related to climate change and the environment. 

Coalitions can assist to merge the resources and skills of diverse actors and leverage their comparative advantages. For instance, the current global coalition for NbS; NBS Manifesto comprises more than 70 governments, the private sector, civil society, and international organizations supplemented by nearly 200 best practices from around the world (UNEP, 2020). Similarly, the Rights and Resource Initiative (RRI) is a global Coalition of more than 150 organizations devoted to improving the forestland and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and rural women.

“The current global coalition for NbS; NBS Manifesto comprises more than 70 governments, the private sector, civil society, and international organizations supplemented by nearly 200 best practices from around the world”

It is evident that indigenous peoples have mastered sustainability and prospered in ecosystems for millennia amid natural habitats and assisted in climate change adaptation and mitigation. To reimagine the world in the post-COVID-19 era, we need to recognize, acquire from indigenous peoples and their knowledge on how humans harmoniously live with the natural environment. 

A Norwegian diplomat, Erik Solheim, who was involved in the establishment of the  United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) shared several strategic factors for building efficient coalitions. Based on the REDD experience, he emphasized strong leadership, by country led and country-specific, application of right actions and sustenance of a clear focus on the expected outcome. Leadership is the scarcest natural resource on the planet, yet the most influential one. For instance, the charismatic leadership of former president Lula da Silvia of Brazil along with determined ministers Marina Silva and Isabella Teixeira helped decrease deforestation by 80%. While international corporate companies like Unilever, Nestlé, McDonalds, and giant agricultural companies like Wilmar, April, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland, are dedicated to eradicating deforestation from their entire supply chain by 2020. National governments are in the utmost positions to identify their countries’ necessities and must take bold actions for successful outcomes and implementations. 

Measuring the accomplishments and failures of coalitions can also be an effective technique to scale-up actions for coalitions. It is imperative to have shared strategies, bonds of trust, and ideas of each other’s resources to maintain collective action in spite of the misunderstandings that exist between the diverse ranges of actors. Coalitions can also be instrumental to secure funds for enhancing indigenous peoples rights and implement IPLC led NbS. Over the next decade, an estimated $180 billion will be required, annually, to cover the cost of adaptation for climate change (Buchner et al., 2019). 

Recently, the finance mechanism is being utilized to tackle uncertainties in the face of climate change. Financial mechanism denotes the way in which an organization or program receives the funding essential for it to remain functional. A range of innovative and large-scale financing sources exist to promote and implement NbS around the world. Nonetheless, increasing evidence is needed to ensure if these funds ultimately help in achieving conservation of nature. Global funds dedicated to low-emission and climate-resilient development include the Green Climate Fund (UNFCCC, 2016) and the Global Environment Facility (UNDP, 2011). 

Similarly, European Regional Development Fund is focused on accelerating nature-based solutions, preserving biodiversity as one of its key investment themes (European Commission, 2019). Likewise, Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development is dedicated to promote nature-based solutions and safeguard Croatia’s rich biodiversity. The European Commission’s LIFE Programme, Nature+ Accelerator Fund, Latin American Water Funds Partnership are also some key funds to drive nature-based solutions. 

“Financial mechanism denotes the way in which an organization or program receives the funding essential for it to remain functional. A range of innovative and large-scale financing sources exist to promote and implement NbS around the world”

The Nature+ Accelerator Fund combines the expertise of public and private institutions and to address the conservation gap by attracting private finance to conservation. Latin American Water Funds is utilized to implement nature-based solutions to diminish the water security of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The funding also supports nature-based solutions such as agroforestry, cover crops, river habitat restoration, reforestation, etc. 

Currently, the necessity to acknowledge the unsung heroes of nature, the indigenous peoples, has become crucial. These indigenous peoples around the world are inevitably tackling climate change by preserving biodiversity in their territories, and sustainably managing natural resources. In order to improve the rights, governance, culture, and economies of indigenous peoples, some funding mechanism exists. These funds are the Onaway Trust, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Global Green grants Fund, Seventh Generation Fund, etc. Additionally, the UN financial mechanism for indigenous opportunities includes the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), The World Intellectual Property Organization, etc.

Future research can further investigate the relationship between coalitions of diverse scale (national, regional, state-level) within the same policy system as well as without and look for developing innovative financial mechanisms to support NbS by IPLCs. Last year, the World Wildlife Fund established the People Protecting Landscapes and Seascapes (PPLS) initiative with an aim for an inclusive conservation approach, which seeks to achieve systems change in the way nature conservation has been traditionally approached and expand rights, governance, and economies of indigenous peoples and local communities. 

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and International Centre for Climate Change (ICCCAD) is currently working collectively to identify the influential actors to form a coalition and identify the funding mechanisms; for uplifting the living standards of indigenous peoples and accelerating nature-based solutions through indigenous peoples. 

Afsara Binte Mirza is  working at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development as a Junior Research Officer, her research interest lies in climate justice and gender equality. Can be reached at [email protected]

Anika Binte Razzaque is working at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) as an intern, her research interest lies in Global Climate Change and Adaptation and the role of NDC in it. She can be reached at [email protected]

Ali Mohammad Rezaie works as the Research Coordinator at ICCCAD. 



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