Jakarta – On Monday, Indonesian civil groups launched the Nusantara Fund, a multimillion-dollar initiative aimed at empowering Indigenous and local communities in Southeast Asia to combat climate change, AFP Newswire reported. This is the first direct funding mechanism of its kind in Indonesia and was launched by the environmental group Walhi, the Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA), and the Indigenous people’s NGO AMAN. The Nusantara Fund has received an initial $3 million in support from international philanthropic organisations such as the Ford Foundation and Packard Foundation.
The Nusantara Fund is part of the $1.7 billion Forest Tenure Pledge that was announced at COP26 in Glasgow, acknowledging the crucial role of Indigenous and local communities in protecting tropical forests and their contribution to mitigating climate change. Despite progress in reducing primary forest loss rate for the past five years, total forest cover continues to decline in the country.
AFP reported that The Nusantara Fund aims to address the imbalance in climate fund distribution, as a Rainforest Foundation Norway study found that Indigenous communities received only $2.7 billion of climate funds in forest management between 2011 and 2020, which is less than 1% of official development assistance for climate change mitigation and adaptation over the same period. The Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker, said that the fund was designed to respond to this imbalance and demonstrate the idea that providing resources to local communities could help address the climate challenge effectively.
The Nusantara Fund will adopt a bottom-up approach by working with local communities and Indigenous people to identify the challenges they face and their solutions. WALHI director, Zenzi Suhadi, explained that the fund aims to create a mechanism that connects the local community and Indigenous people directly. AMAN’s secretary-general, Rukka Sombolinggi, added that villagers “know best” about the challenges they face and how to tackle them.
The founders of the Nusantara Fund hope to attract up to $20 million in investment in the next ten years. The fund seeks to help map over 20 million hectares of Indigenous territories, increase the protection and registration of 7.8 million hectares on top of the recognized land, and achieve other targets. (nsh)