Oct 2, 2019

This blog post is re-posted from Blue Sky Funders Forum
September 27, 2019
by Randi Fisher
On September 29, 2014—five years ago this week—a group of funders, working closely with leaders in the field, launched an ambitious new network with a bold vision to serve as a hub for funders to learn and act together to advance access to environmental literacy and connections to nature. With the leadership of the Pisces Foundation and the George B. Storer Foundation, the partnership of the North American Association of Environmental Education and the Environmental Grantmakers Association, and the enthusiastic support of a handful of committed early members, the Blue Sky Funders Forum was born.
At the Pisces Foundation, one of our core values is building networks and convening to advance collaboration, joint priorities, and scaled impact. Our Environmental Education Program from its beginning in 2013 made strategic, field-building investments in environmental education across the U.S. with collaboration at the center of our approach. We wanted to learn from and collaborate with funders working across the country, identifying gaps and opportunities in the field and inviting new partners to invest in this critical work. We also wanted to honor and value the tremendous role researchers and practitioners play and to ensure that they had a prominent seat at the table too. This co-generative approach is core to Blue Sky’s mission.
Five years after Blue Sky launched, I am thrilled to see the community’s growth—expanding to nearly 30 members; engaging key experts and visionary advisors; and reaching more than 100 funders through convenings in Austin, TX; Jackson, WY; Miami, FL; St. Paul, MN; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Vancouver, Canada; Washington, DC; and Oakland, CA. (And we’ll soon add Philadelphia, PA to this list!).
Blue Sky has played a part in shining a light on leaders, innovations, and victories in the field, and has facilitated a collaborative learning community of funders and practitioners. Together, Blue Sky members have:

This is just a taste of all that the Blue Sky community has to celebrate as we mark our fifth anniversary. And I can’t help but feel that greater impact is ahead of us.
Blue Sky recently completed a multi-year, collaborative process to craft a shared narrative for the field—an engaging story to reshape how people think about and prioritize the outdoors and its benefits. Funders, practitioners, and researchers co-led this process, engaging close to 700 individuals. The new narrative lifts up the benefits of outdoor experiences as a basic human right. One stakeholder described the new narrative as a “tremendous gift to the field” and another encouraged us to continue to provide resources and tools to use the narrative. Next month, Blue Sky will do just that by launching a campaign to spread this narrative far and wide. We hope those of you who work day in and day out to equip kids with the environmental know-how they need to shape a more sustainable world will consider participating in the campaign, using the narrative, and partnering with organizations who share the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors, because when people connect with nature we all benefit.
Thank you for being a part of Blue Sky’s journey. It has been an incredible five years. Here’s to many more blue skies ahead!
Randi Fisher is co-founder and trustee of the Pisces Foundation. She is a philanthropist and social entrepreneur focused on the nexus of the environment, health, and sustainability. She is founder of the Blue Sky Funders Forum. 

Jul 30, 2019

This blog is cross-posted from Water Foundation.

Water Foundation applauds the incredible work of our partners who have led a statewide movement to secure the human right to water in collaboration with countless community leaders and advocates. Juliet Christian-Smith and Alesandra Nájera celebrate this tremendous victory and share what comes next.

Photo: 2019 Water Strike in Sacramento by Community Water Center

For the first time ever, California has ongoing funding to end the drinking water crisis. Right now, one million Californians live with tap water that is too toxic for drinking, bathing, and cooking. Today, July 24, 2019, Governor Newsom signed SB 200, which provides annual appropriations totaling $1.4 billion over the next 11 years for safe, clean, and affordable drinking water for all residents, marking the beginning of the end to this shameful public health disaster.

While many people contributed to this historic victory, it would never have happened without the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Coalition, whose tireless organizing and relentless advocacy in partnership with community leaders called attention to the hidden drinking water crisis and led the movement for real solutions. These partners, led by Clean Water Action, Community Water Center, and Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, have worked diligently to build presence and power in the Capitol, first passing a Human Right to Water in 2012 and now securing an historic funding commitment that will deliver on the promise of providing safe drinking water for all.

California’s drinking water victory is a reminder of the change that is possible when elected leaders listen deeply to voices of their constituents – and act. The state’s unprecedented new funding tackles the root causes of unsafe and unaffordable drinking water, including investment in pollution treatment systems, ongoing operations and maintenance, and regionalizing or restructuring chronically failing water suppliers. Community leaders on the front lines of California’s toxic taps crisis have been fighting for precisely this type of statewide support. They demanded that those with the power and ability make the human right to water a reality.

This year – a testament to those community leaders’ perseverance – Governor Newsom, Speaker Rendon, Pro Tem Atkins, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, and Senator Monning made securing the fundamental right to clean water a priority and galvanized extraordinary political will across the legislature.

From his first Cabinet meeting in a small Central Valley community with polluted groundwater to his State of the State address, Governor Newsom has championed permanent solutions to the drinking water crisis. In tours throughout the state this year, leaders in the Senate and Assembly made it clear that 2019 would be the year of safe and affordable drinking water. Despite complicated politics, these elected leaders prevailed in finding a long-term solution and, in so doing, setting a precedent for other states to follow.

What Comes Next?

We believe that where you live and how much money you get paid should not determine whether you have clean water. Your race, gender, and age should not decide that. Water is a human right.

In California, we’re committed to working with our partners to ensure the new drinking water funds are spent effectively and equitably and prioritize the communities most in need of help. Nationally, we have over 50,000 water suppliers, and more than 80 percent of those providers serve fewer than 3,000 customers. Just as in California, these small water systems are particularly vulnerable to contamination and lack funding for pollution treatment or other solutions — a reality the New York Times just exposed in a new story today, “The Crisis Lurking in Californians’ Taps: How 1,000 Water Systems May Be at Risk.

California just demonstrated that we can do more than simply address these challenges with a piece-meal approach. The national drinking water crisis is solvable. At the Water Foundation, we are committed to cataloging what we have learned from this work and using those insights to support proven solutions and strategies in California and other states.

We are incredibly grateful to all who contributed to this success both through their advocacy on the front lines and through their philanthropic support. Over the three years that we have been supporting the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Coalition, we’ve learned a lot from our community partners, including some powerful chants. One was still ringing in our ears as the final bill was signed by the Governor Newsom in the home of Carolina Garcia, one of the many community leaders who have led the way towards this victory: El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido! (The people united, will never be defeated!) 

Jun 6, 2019

By David Farren

(This blog is re-posted from The Charleston Post & Courier

Water floods the Low Battery during Tropical Storm Irma on September 11, 2017. File/Matthew Fortner/Staff

Are we ready for a really frank conversation about climate change impacts in the Lowcountry?

Many of us have seen those doom-and-gloom sea level rise projections, but the real-life scenarios are already the new normal here, in a region where many of us live less than 10 feet above sea level. It’s not just the “hundred year storms” that are now occurring every 16 years, or the extreme hurricane activity each of the past four years that tells us it’s real. It’s also the nuisance “sunny day” flooding, up to 50 days last year, that will be more than 100 days per year two decades from now.

In fact, Charleston ranks as one of the 20 most climate-vulnerable metro regions in the entire world — step aside Conde Nast!

With the Charleston region’s economy currently the 16th fastest growing in the country, our mobility, our property values, our commercial activity and, ultimately, our tax revenue are all at extreme risk if we don’t take action. It’s time to move beyond the studies, commissions and community forums and implement scientifically sound, nature-based solutions that will help protect our communities into the future.

Recently, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation sponsored a gathering of 100 regional conservation leaders to look at some real strategies that we can begin to incorporate before it’s too late. Policy experts and community leaders from up and down the Atlantic Seaboard discussed a range of approaches working with nature to protect our communities and economic future. We quickly learned that Miami and Norfolk are well ahead of us in taking action. With recent polling showing that far more of  South Carolina’s citizens are in the “concerned” or “alarmed” category than the climate change “deniers” camp (a vocal 10%), now is the time to demand that our local and state officials work with business and community leaders on solutions.

Here are three key, practical action steps we identified:

Safeguard our wetlands. We are still blessed in the Lowcountry with abundant saltwater marsh and freshwater wetlands connected to our rivers and streams, which serve as giant sponges to soak up floodwaters. We must protect this critical resource from indiscriminate development that “digs our hole deeper,” puts people in harm’s way and blocks wetland migration corridors as seas rise. While counterintuitive, armoring our shorelines is only going to make matters worse. Thousands more citizens could have been impacted on our northern coast in the wake of Hurricane Florence if not for the conserved wetlands along the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers. Because our president is proposing to expand existing federal loopholes, local action is even more imperative.

Stop subsidizing development in vulnerable areas. It’s time to take a closer look at local plans for new roads and utility extensions, and give up on the “legacy projects” that encourage people to move in harm’s way, ultimately requiring expensive public bailouts. Instead, let’s encourage development on higher ground along existing transportation spines. Community leaders need to get real about improvements, including transit, along these corridors, which will encourage denser, mixed-use development, a hallmark of effective planning in livable urban areas. Political will to shift funding priorities will take both courage and foresight.

Solve affordable housing. While this may not seem like a climate strategy, too often the most vulnerable communities with the least resources pay the biggest price both environmentally and economically. In Miami, “climate gentrification” is already displacing low-income residents and communities of color on higher ground. We must solve our affordable housing crisis before things get even worse. For those in repetitive loss areas, buyouts before, rather than after, the next storm can be encouraged. The FEMA flood insurance program must be applied equitably to serve all segments of our community, not just those who can more readily absorb the loss. As with natural systems, healthy economies and vital communities require diversity to be sustainable.

The biggest takeaway is we can’t wait. The real threat is not the next hurricane but our collective inaction. Let’s learn from our coastal neighbors and begin to work with nature to make our communities more healthy, prosperous and equitable.

David Farren is executive director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, which for 65 years has supported land conservation, artistic vitality and museum and library collections in Chicago and the Lowcountry.

Jun 3, 2019

(This blog has been re-posted from Blue Sky Funders Forum)

By Francesca Vietor

Research has shown that youth who spend more time outdoors exhibit improved attentiveness, reduced school absenteeism, higher scores on standardized tests and better overall academic performance. Exposure to nature also fosters motor development, self-esteem, self-confidence, a sense of identity, and psychological resilience. Providing youth with repeated outdoor experiences also nurtures concern and responsibility, which are key factors in developing positive attitudes and behaviors toward conservation and the planet.

Yet, despite being surrounded by some of the nation’s most beautiful parks and wilderness, many Bay Area youth have never visited these open spaces, and programs often do not reach low-income youth or youth of color. The Youth Access to Nature Program (YAN) was established by the San Francisco Foundation and its donors to ensure that underserved youth have equitable access to such opportunities and that they too receive the many benefits and beauty that nature provides.

In 2015, YAN was seeded with a lead gift from the Riddell Family Fund at the San Francisco Foundation. YAN immediately attracted additional donor support and the program launched with an annual budget of approximately $900,000. RFPs were issued and 25 organizations from across the region were funded to bring low-income youth and youth of color outdoors. In the past three years, the YAN cohort has collectively provided an estimated 20,000 youth with outdoor experiences annually, and helped them to reach their full potential.

In addition to supporting individual organizations through its cohort model, YAN believed that it could reach even more youth and deepen its impact by working with schools. Middle school is a key time to expose young people to nature; a time when many kids start to become less active outdoors and spend more time indoors and on screens, becoming more disconnected from nature.

Mark Triplett, the Middle School Network Superintendent at Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), understands the profound difference the outdoors can make on a student and wants to better integrate outdoor programs with Next Generation Science Standards and Social Emotional Learning. When Mark came to the San Francisco Foundation looking for support, OUSD was already working with YAN’s partner Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT). The Riddell Family once again stepped in to provide a $1.1 million seed grant to launch Oakland Goes Outdoors (OGO)—a new partnership between OUSD, BAWT, and the San Francisco Foundation.

Launched this May, OGO is a three-year pilot program that will provide every Oakland public middle schooler with positive and meaningful outdoor experiences. The program will serve 1,300 students in the first year and scale up to a total of 7,200 middle school students in 13 schools by its third year, many who have never been exposed to their local parks, much less an overnight camping experience in the wilderness. BAWT will provide the gear and train teachers and after-school providers, and the Oakland Education Fund will administer the smaller grants to each individual school to pay for their trips.

The San Francisco Foundation will continue to do what it does best by convening partners, engaging donors, deploying resources, and providing everyone in the Bay Area with an opportunity to thrive. The Foundation will deepen the impact of YAN and OGO by building capacity, exchanging learnings and sharing stories in order to make youth and nature a greater part of the public discourse and a ‘must have’ in schools and communities everywhere. The San Francisco Foundation estimates that with sufficient funding and institutional commitment, nearly 300,000 youth in the Bay Area will have a potentially life-changing experience in the outdoors over the next ten years. “Every child deserves access to the wonder and beauty of our natural environment,” says Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf. “no matter what neighborhood they come from or what school they attend.”

The San Francisco Foundation launched YAN and OGO with a simple but powerful goal: to provide disconnected and underserved youth with meaningful, transformative experiences in nature that inspire them to care for the earth and help them to reach their full potential. Since then, the fund has provided tens of thousands of Bay Area youth with the opportunity to engage in environmental education programs, explore nature, and become stewards of our natural heritage. Young people have been able to see the ocean for the first time, visit the awe-inspiring redwoods, get their hands dirty in the soil, and have the formative experiences in nature that all children deserve.

The San Francisco Foundation relies on the generosity of our donors and the incredible work of its grantees to create positive community impact. To learn how to support or get involved with Youth Access to Nature or Oakland Goes Outdoors please contact Francesca Vietor at or 415-733-8517.

Francesca Vietor currently serves as Senior Advisor at the San Francisco Foundation, managing the Youth Access to Nature Program and providing grantmaking recommendations to the Foundation’s donors on racial, economic and environmental equity. Francesca also serves as one of five commissioners of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Before coming to The San Francisco Foundation in 2010, Francesca was executive director of the Chez Panisse Foundation, president of the Urban Forest Council, president of the Commission on the Environment, and chair of then-Mayor Newsom’s Environmental Transition Team.

Mar 29, 2019

By Kim Moore Bailey

(This blog post is re-posted from Youth Outside

Last month, we celebrated Black History Month.

I believe that Black History Month happens every month for me as I think about the shoulders that I stand on to engage in the work at the intersection of racial equity, inclusion and the outdoors.

As the "official" month of Black History was underway, I found myself thinking about my grandmother who turned 102 on February 13th. She remembers what she wants to remember, walks with the aid of a walker and loves red roses. When I share my work with her, she is excited that it involves connecting Black people (& others) to the outdoors.

Whenever we talk about my work, she connects it with the passion my grandfather (Granddad) had for farming and fishing. Her husband for 70 years, and my father’s father, he looked at these activities not as sport or hobby, but part of life. Fresh vegetables for his family and community…sharing the bounty of a good day on the water…this made for stories and the chance to share with others, often in trade for something else. At no point did my grandfather call himself an environmentalist. However, he did know what “good” soil smelled like; that the weather in the spring would determine the harvest in the fall; and an early frost meant damage to the tomatoes, but perhaps the pumpkins and squash would be ok.

These memories celebrate my heroes. They offer me an opportunity to look back and allow me to look forward.

There is something powerful about storytelling and being able to hear about the wide range of relationships that my folks, Black folks, have had with the outdoors. From Granddad’s garden in Queens, New York to my great-grandfathers farm (on my mother’s side) in Jamaica, the relationship ranges from recreational to necessity.

My grandmother (Gran) on my mother’s side used to talk about walking to and from work and church while living in Alabama and supporting the bus boycott. She continued to walk, long after the boycott ended and she moved to NY. She would say, “When I walk, my senses are alive. You can see the crocus coming up, the dogwoods blooming, and the first signs of the leaves turning in the fall. You can smell the fresh soil in the gardens, the dew on the grass.” She also talked about the fear – her time in the country that echoed those contentious and often violent tales that are part of our history.

For my ancestors, the connection to the land, to nature was real. It was part of their lives and while there were fears, there were also joys and they wove these experiences together for me.

They would tell personal accounts of friends and family disappearing in the woods during the civil rights movement, but they could also encourage the curiosity of a six year old who wanted to take a walk amongst the trees and look for wild berries. Stares and unwelcoming behavior on walks, in playground areas and at the beach were common. What I learned from them was how to ignore that behavior, move with intention and know I had the right to be in these places. They believed that things would get better and I know their disappointment would be deep if they knew that racial discrimination in our public spaces still exists today.

I think it’s time to write a new chapter in the Black history book called “The Great Outdoors.” Let’s continue our work to make this part of the story a positive one full of healing and powerful new connections…a powerful narrative about how we were able to reclaim our relationships with nature and feel safe, supported and welcome in the outdoors.

Mar 22, 2019

By David Gordon and Chris Allan

As the world gathered in Paris in December 2015 to negotiate a new climate agreement, 600,000 people in 175 countries marched in support of the process. Yet the French government itself used emergency powers, put in place to fight terrorism, to put two dozen environmental leaders under house arrest for the duration of the negotiations.

In India, since 2015 the government has stripped the right to receive funds from abroad from some 20,000 NGOs. Civil society organizations that suggest alternatives to environmentally damaging megaprojects like agribusiness plantations, dams, and mines have been particularly targeted.

In February 2018, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a leading advocate for Indigenous rights to lands and territories, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, was surprised to find that she had been named by the Government of the Philippines as a member of a terrorist organization. “When we stand our ground and refuse to leave our ancestral homes, we often face criminalization,” she said.

In the U.S., Native American leaders led highly publicized protests to protect the lands and waters of the Standing Rock Sioux from pipeline construction. Now, proposed bills in at least eight states aim to limit environmental protests against “critical infrastructure” such as oil and gas pipelines.

Brazil is the most dangerous country in the world to assert your land rights – in 2017 alone, 57 people were killed doing just that, more than one a week. And President Bolsonaro now promises to “supervise, coordinate, monitor and accompany” NGOs in the country and to “put a final stop to all forms of activism in Brazil.” Upon taking office, he immediately weakened protections for biodiverse Amazon forests, transferring power to demarcate Indigenous lands to the Ministry of Agriculture, which is known for defending agribusiness interests.

And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a highly biodiverse and resource-rich country, even pro-environment public servants are targeted for their work. Twelve park rangers were killed in 2017 for battling militias who profit from wildlife poaching and illegal mining; more than 160 rangers have been killed in the last 15 years.

Isolated incidents? Hardly. The ability of citizens to organize themselves and redress grievances is under attack in 111 countries around the world. For environmental and conservation funders, these restrictions limit the ability to achieve key program outcomes, whether in wildlife protection, forest conservation, or climate change. These issues are summarized in our recent briefing document, Closing Civil Society Space: What Environmental Funders Need to Know.

What’s behind these increasing restrictions on environmental protection? 

As environmental groups gain influence and public support, creating larger impact, they must also reckon with a new reality of restrictions on their work that are rapidly increasing in scope and scale. Key drivers we see in countries across the world include the abuse of land and resource rights, unrestricted corporate power, and poor government oversight. Nationalist and populist governments pushing negative narratives about the value of citizen action are on the rise, maligning the motives and funding of citizen groups, and calling them anti-development, anti-patriotic, foreign agents, criminals, and even terrorists for their efforts to protect the environment. Threats to civil space increase where there is widespread racism and inequality, since it is difficult for marginalized groups to defend their rights. Finally, a lack of solidarity among environmental organizations and funders can fracture the movement: when some organizations are victimized while others remain silent, the ability to push back on restrictions is weakened. Lack of collaboration between the environmental movement and other movements on human rights and Indigenous Peoples undermines the ability of civil society to defend against these growing restrictions. 

What are funders doing about it? 

The funders we interviewed for our research are adjusting their grantmaking procedures to help grantees weather the storm, connecting with other funders and other movements, improving digital security, and supporting women leaders who are subject to gender specific threats when they take environmental action. Increasingly, environmental funders are supporting legal strategies to defend the rule of law and work to improve corporate and bank behavior. Recognizing that environmentalists will continue to defend their lands and territories despite the challenges they face, funders are discussing risk with their grantees to make sure that communities are supported in ways that are most relevant and secure for them. Some funders are committed to maintaining support in countries with high risk to civil society, becoming linchpins for both civil society and for other funders.

Funders are protecting environmentalists when they come under threat, especially through pooled funds like the Environmental Defenders Collaborative. They are also learning the need to engage and intervene at the earliest stages of restrictions on civil society, when conservation advocates are faced with public stigmatization and bureaucratic hurdles, rather than waiting until they are jailed or murdered. Many funders are exploring these issues together through the Environmental Funders Working Group at the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society.

Results of these efforts inspire hope. In Canada, environmental groups successfully fought back against smears by government ministers, who vilified environmental groups and U.S. funders. In Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, broad civil society coalitions defeated legislation that would have restricted access of NGOs to international funding.

Nothing can bring back the hundreds of environmental defenders around the world who have been killed in recent years, or mitigate the lasting impact their loss has had on their families, communities, fragile ecosystems, species, and climate change – a loss that we are only starting to comprehend. But as environmental funders, we can come together with other funders, governments, and NGOs to address the root causes and manifestations to help citizens in their efforts to protect our shared planet. 

For more information email, or visit and

Jan 18, 2019

by Jonathan Leaning, Grassroots International.

In the beautiful, verdant jungle of the Brazilian Amazon—the very lungs of the planet—a small handful of Indigenous Munduruku communities have lived in connection with their ecosystem for more than a thousand years. When news emerged about plans to construct a massive dam right on their lands, the core of the Munduruku’s age-old existence was shaken to the core. The proposed dam would level and flood huge swathes of land, destroy the integrity of one of the most important rivers in the Amazon (the Tapajos River), and threaten their culture in the process.

The dam developers anticipated little resistance from the Munduruku communities: they were isolated, barely a few thousand in number, and far from the centers of power and decision. The remote land seemed ripe for the taking, and when omitting the ecological and cultural damage from the equation, the profit would be enormous.

It didn’t quite turn out the way the financial backers had hoped. The communities got wind of the plan and began to organize. They linked up with a national Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens - MAB) which brings communities together to resist dams and fight for energy sovereignty. MAB provides access to information, data, training and spaces to develop collective strategy. The Munduruku began to form alliances with supportive national and international human rights, environmental, Indigenous rights and other networks.

After more than three decades of struggle, that small group of Munduruku communities achieved the unthinkable. Their years of coordinated direct action, education, alliance-building, international advocacy, and legal tactics finally paid off. It all culminated with the announcement in August, 2016 by the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) that they were cancelling the licensing of the São Luiz hydroelectric dam, citing an Environmental Impact Study. On the same day, Funai, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, finalized demarcation of their lands bringing them one step closer to having constitutionally protected territory.

It was a victory of tremendous importance. Throughout the world, large dams have forced 40-80 million people off their lands over the past six decades.

According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), dams are the largest single human-made source of methane, responsible for approximately 23% of all anthropogenic methane emissions. Worth noting, methane traps more heat than carbon dioxide and, therefore, is a more potent greenhouse gas producer. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that methane has a warming impact 72 times higher than carbon dioxide if measured over 20 years.

Rather than offering a “solution” to climate change, big hydro-electric dams are false solutions that endanger the planet with the methane emitted and threaten to destroy local ecosystems and cultures, like the Munduruku. The world's large dams emit 104 million metric tons of methane annually from reservoir surfaces, turbines, spillways and rivers downstream. Dam methane emissions are responsible for at least 4% of the total warming impact of human activities. 

“It you want to take care of the forest you need to invest in us – Indigenous Peoples – because no one takes better care of the forest than we do,” says Antonio Dace Munduruku, a spokesperson for the Munduruku people.

That is one of the reasons much of the battle for the preservation of our environment, our planet, and climate is being fought successfully at the grassroots level, particularly among Indigenous and traditional peoples with deep roots to their lands and territories. This is why the CLIMA Fund is focusing on building support and funding for climate justice movements and groups.

A collaboration of four complementary funders (Global Greengrants Fund, Grassroots International, Thousand Currents, and Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights), the CLIMA Fund recognizes that the frontline communities most affected by climate change and environmental threats are best equipped to advance climate solutions and combat the impact of climate disruption. Reaching over 100 countries, the CLIMA Fund aims to raise and re-grant $10 million to Indigenous, women, and youth-led grassroots climate movement-building over the next four years.

Though the struggle against climate-warming megaprojects are difficult to win, the Munduruku success is not unique. Around the world, Indigenous Peoples and climate-impacted communities are advancing climate solutions that address the root causes of climate disruption, and are successfully challenging destructive projects.

Worth noting, the Munduruku and their territory face new threats from the recently inaugurated Bolsonaro administration that wants to abolish the environmental ministry and [further] open the Amazon to logging and mining. Indigenous Peoples, comprising less than 5 percent of the earth’s population protect 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. That means supporting Indigenous Peoples and the management of their territories must be a central strategy to challenge climate change.

In Latin America, a network of anti-dam movements in 13 countries (the Movimiento de Afectados por Represasa - a Latin American Movement of People Affected by Dams) is gaining strength, sharing learnings, successes and campaigns strategy across the continent. This year, they will be expanding their network to include movements from other continents, making it much harder for dam-building corporations to hoodwink isolated communities for the sake of quick, big profits at the expense of the environment.

Often resistance to megaprojects like dams comes at great cost. For example, in 2016, Berta Cáceres was murdered for opposing the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras. Throughout the world, environmental justice leaders face violence, threats and assassination as they stand up to protect ecosystems and Mother Earth. The Indigenous organization Berta founded – COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) – continues to carry on the work of resisting dams, advancing the territory rights of Indigenous Peoples, and defending Mother Earth.
When climate action is grounded in the experience and leadership of frontline impacted communities and connected by movements that have a clear analysis of the root causes of climate disruption, the results are powerful.

Throughout the globe, communities are weaving extraordinary solutions and connections, and building webs of resistance. Often they are accomplishing this on beat-up computers and cell phones, unpaid staff, sporadic electric power and barebones resources. One can’t help but wonder: what greater things could they accomplish if they weren’t mobilizing under the stranglehold of a shoestring budget?