Ford Works Rural Fronts in Deforestation Fight in Both Global South and North

It has long been acknowledged that climate change does, and will continue to disproportionately affect vulnerable communities around the world, particularly in rural and remote areas. With this in mind, the Ford Foundation has delivered some highly relevant funding in the past few years under an initiative called "Climate Change Responses that Strengthen Rural Communities."

Part of the foundation’s larger Sustainable Development program, it fosters land and resource management efforts to mitigate the causes and effects of climate change through research, advocacy, networking, communications and training activities. As the initiative’s name suggests, the aim is for funded efforts to also improve the livelihoods of rural people.

A good example of the included programs is the Global Greengrants Fund. Ford provided $50,000 to this small grants program in 2013 to help build the capacity of indigenous and community organizations in Central America, allowing them to participate in policy dialogues on forests and climate change.

In a similar vein, Ford awarded $150,000 to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, to help the Mesoamerican Alliance for Peoples and Forests design and implement communications strategies that address concerns about forestry and climate change policies.

While it obviously has a strong focus on indigenous communities and the Global South, the climate change initiative has also targeted endangered rural communities in Europe. Last year, it made a sizeable $810,000 grant to the Brussels-based Fern Foundation, for example.

That money has gone toward research, dissemination and advocacy on climate change mitigation through addressing European Union policies and investments that drive deforestation. It will also work toward strengthening community rights in forest countries.

The common theme of forests in these grants is far from coincidental: Former Ford Foundation President Luis A. Ubiñas was fond of promoting the “unrealized potential of innovative forestry programs,” and their custodians, to drive new solutions to climate change. His successor since last year, Darren Walker, seems to share the vision.