A spur to action – getting money to the local level for nature and climate: Make Change Happen podcast episode 19

At COP26, political leaders called for more action to address biodiversity loss and climate change together. In this episode of Make Change Happen, we discuss how this must be financed and the possible mechanisms for spurring actions on the ground.

Article, 21 September 2022

IIED’s  ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast provides an opportunity to hear our researchers and guests discuss key global development challenges and explain what we are doing to support positive change.

At COP26, political leaders signed the Glasgow Climate Pact, calling for concerted action and financing to address the combined impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. Companies and governments are starting to invest in integrated solutions – recognising that nature has a key role to play in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

But this integrated approach is still underfunded and underused. And what money there is does not always get to the right place where it can be spent in the best way.

Hosted for the first time by James Persad, IIED’s new director of communications, this episode features Mandy Barnett from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), Moses Egaru of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)Yiching Song from the Farmers’ Seed Network China, and Xiaoting Hou Jones, senior researcher in IIED's Natural Resources research group.

Together they discuss the mechanisms that need to be in place to get money to the right levels, particularly the local level where communities and institutions who have the knowledge and the power to make changes happen to address the pressing challenges of climate change and nature loss.  

Power in the hands of local changemakers

Local people understand and experience at first hand the impacts of climate change and nature loss. They also have strategies for how to address these impacts.

In episode 19 we hear from Mandy Barnett about the positive gains from a Small Grants Facility where money from the Global Adaptation Fund has been used to support community-level actions to improve climate resilience through better management of natural resources.

Yiching Song gives us a snapshot of the innovative responses being devised by smallholder farmers in China and the role played by a community-based network to organise and support those farmers and fund their ideas in the absence of government action. Moses Egaru describes how the Community Environment Conservation Fund is inspiring communities in Uganda to devise restoration action plans and get them financed, while supporting women champions for climate and conservation actions.

Scaled up and sustainable

Individually, those local actions may seem small but, collectively, they are driving transformative changes across diverse landscapes. To more effectively support those local actions, all speakers highlighted the importance for governments at all levels, community-based organisations, private sector and NGOs to work together to drive systemic changes.

The speakers pointed out that current financing mechanisms are often too complex for local actors to navigate. On one hand, they hold the fundings can simplify the funding system. On the other, donors and governments need to invest in supporting organisations that can ‘join the dots’ and link local actors and communities’ voices with those complex systems.


Head and shoulders photo of Mandy Barnett

Mandy Barnett is chief director of the Adaptation Policy and Resourcing division at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Under her leadership, SANBI has developed and is implementing two Adaptation Fund projects, including the Adaptation Fund’s first Enhanced Direct Access Climate Change Adaptation project. She is also a co-author of a background paper on the ‘missing middle in adaptation finance’.

Head and shoulders photo of Moses Egaru

Moses Egaru is a senior programme officer at IUCN Uganda, and he has been key in designing and implementing transformational programmes that deliver landscape restoration and sustainable finance to communities. He is also part of the team championing the Community Environment Conservation Fund, a finance mechanism that catalyses local communities to restore landscapes while providing them with finance packages to boost their livelihoods.

Head and shoulders photo of Yiching Song

Yiching Song is the founder of Farmers’ Seed Network China and programme leader in UNEP-IEMP. Her expertise focus is on biodiversity, sustainable livelihood, integrating community and ecosystem-based climate change adaptations for natural based solutions, Indigenous People and communities’ roles in climate changes, resilience and sustainable development policies in China and other developing countries.

Head and shoulders photo of Xiaoting Hou Jones

Xiaoting Hou Jones is a senior researcher at IIED's Natural Resources research group. She has more than a decade of experience working on nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, with a rich research background in a diversity of sustainable development issues ranging from industrial ecology and supply chain management to political economy and managing trade-offs in land-use decisions.

Head and shoulders photo of James Persad

James Persad (host) is the director of the Communications group at IIED. He is a campaigning and communications expert. Prior to IIED, James created and led the charity FareShare’s campaign to tackle childhood hunger during the holidays, which led to the partnership with Marcus Rashford MBE, and subsequent funding of over £600m to date for Holiday and Activity funds for UK children.

How to listen and subscribe

The ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast provides informal insights into IIED’s work to create positive change and make the complex issues we face more accessible to wider audiences. The title refers to IIED’s 2019-2024 strategy, which sets out how IIED plans to respond to the critical challenges of our time.

The podcast is also available on IIED's YouTube channel.

You can follow some of the people you have heard in this episode on Twitter at @JamesNPersad. Follow the podcast on @IIED_Voices for all the latest updates.