A group of donors declared on Tuesday that it would channel almost half a billion US dollars to conserve forests and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands.
The group of nine foundations, including the Ford Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, stated it would endow US$459 million over the next four years to help indigenous peoples and traditional communities secure their land rights and resource management.
Ford Foundation president Darren Walker said securing indigenous land rights was among the most effective ways to fight climate change since indigenous communities were the most effective steward of the forests.
“Securing land is fundamental to ensuring people’s basic rights and human dignity. If their livelihoods are secured, they’re not vulnerable to exploitation and land grab,” he said during the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force Forum.
The forum, which is being attended by groups of indigenous peoples and 34 governors from five continents, also agreed to 13 principles that will guide partnerships between the peoples and local governments in managing forests.
A recent study released by Washington-based research coalition Rights and Resources Initiative showed that indigenous peoples and local communities across the globe owned at least 418 million hectares, 15.2 percent of the forestland in the regions.
More than two-thirds of the forests in the countries, representing at least 1.9 billion hectares, however, are administered by governments.