Foundations alliance commits $459m to support of forests, lands and rights for climate change goals

Some of the world’s leading philanthropic organizations have joined forces to commit almost half a billion dollars to deeper funding for the forests and lands that are critical to climate change.

In an announcement to coincide with this week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, a group of 18 foundations committed to step up support for initiatives that have the potential to slow climate change. These include land use policies that help achieve climate targets; agricultural production that supports sustainable food; and indigenous people’s management of forests.

Forests and lands already remove 30% of carbon emissions added to the atmosphere each year, and could provide an additional 30% of the mitigation needed by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. But forests and lands receive just 3% of the funding for climate action.

The Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and the United Nations Foundation are among the signatories. The group hopes its actions will “inspire new and deeper investments” from other foundations, governments and businesses to finance “a shift toward sustainable and rights-based land use and forest management and away from short-term resource depletion that leaves communities, economies, and the planet impoverished”.

Latest figures from the Foundation Center show that less than 1% of grants from the largest 1,000 foundations addressed climate change. Nine grant makers in the alliance have already made commitments of $459 million through 2022 to natural climate solutions.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation this week announced a $20 million commitment to support natural climate solutions. Focused primarily on US initiatives, the funding will support new best practices, business models and markets, finance and policy approaches, and demonstration of projects that lead to accelerated carbon sequestration across the country.

Sacha Spector, program director for the environment at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, said it was essential to act aggressively to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius. “We cannot achieve this target without changing how we conserve and use land,” she said.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity to harness and restore the power of natural ecosystems and agricultural lands to reduce climate change. By making this substantial new investment in natural climate solutions, we hope to accelerate efforts using this strategy and to encourage other funders to increase their support for this underfunded approach.”

Carol Larson, president and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, said: “There isn’t a single solution to the climate problem but protecting forests, land, and the people who defend them is an important part of the constellation,

“Philanthropy is in a unique position to act on climate because we have the flexibility to tolerate risk, think big, and invest for the long haul. Foundations must play their part, so we make progress with greater urgency and ambition.”

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