Indigenous Peoples and local communities excluded from decision making on money to help them tackle nature loss

Representatives hold just 11% of board seats on biodiversity funds worth more than US$2 billion.

Press release, 13 December 2022
UN biodiversity conference (COP15)
A series of pages related to IIED's activities around the 15th Convention on Biological Diversity conference (COP15)

Representatives of Indigenous Peoples and local communities hold just 11% of board seats on funds that have been set up to deliver more than US$2 billion to their communities to help them tackle the biodiversity crisis, according to new preliminary analysis from the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) and IIED. 

The analysis looked at 16 funds which collectively aim to deliver more than $2 billion to Indigenous Peoples and local communities to help tackle nature loss. The majority of the boards had one or no seats for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but some funds stood out for being more inclusive, with one board having 88% of their board seats occupied by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.  

The role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in conserving nature is a key aspect of negotiations to agree a new global biodiversity framework which are taking place in Montreal at the moment, known as COP15. A recent global scientific review by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that biodiversity is declining less rapidly on lands and territories managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities than on other land. 

Ramson Karmushu, from IIFB, said: “Most of the world’s biodiversity is located on the lands and territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities yet our role is undervalued and, in some cases, not even acknowledged. This new analysis highlights the limited influence and power we have over decision making, prioritisation and distribution of the very funds that are intended for our use.” 

While some estimates put the annual amount of funding for biodiversity from governments, philanthropists and private corporations at around $6.2 billion, researchers also noted the lack of transparency around finance for nature. Little or no information was publicly available for some funds about their governance arrangements, how much money they were allocating and to whom.  

Indigenous Peoples and local communities trying to access funds face related difficulties. Information on funds’ availability is difficult to find and sometimes they depend on partners and intermediaries who have access and expertise. The eligibility requirements expected by funders can be complicated and beyond reach for smaller organisations therefore limiting their access to funds. Funding can often be short-term and unpredictable, making it hard to plan and deliver activities. 

Ebony Holland, IIED’s nature and climate policy lead, said: “To ensure the global biodiversity framework has the best chance of reversing the loss of nature, the rights, needs, interests, cultural values and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities must be at its heart. That includes allowing them to decide how and when funds should be spent to best conserve the plants, animals and marine life on which we all depend.” 

Notes to editors

The IPBES global scientific review was conducted in 2019. 

Further research on the allocation and governance arrangements of funds for nature and biodiversity is planned for next year. 

For more information or to request an interview, contact Jon Sharman: 
+44 7503 643332 or