State of Funding for Tenure Rights and Forest Guardianship

Donor Funding for Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, and Afro-Descendant Peoples in Tropical Forested Countries (2011–2023)

April 10, 2024


Rights and Resources Initiative & Rainforest Foundation Norway



The tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and Afro-descendant Peoples (IPs, LCs, and ADPs) are inextricably linked to the health and resilience of key ecosystems and carbon stores. Yet, efforts to strengthen them receive only a fraction of total donor funding for climate and conservation solutions. In recent years, recognition of this fact in the international donor community has led to increased commitments, pledges, and innovations to fund IP, LC, and ADP tenure rights and forest guardianship, but more needs to be done to improve donor coordination and fill critical gaps in the funding landscape.

To improve coordination and transparency, the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) developed the Path to Scale Funding Dashboard — an innovative tracking tool that provides open access to all publicly available funding data for IP, LC, and ADP tenure rights and forest guardianship since 2011. Up to this point, publicly available data on donor funding flows has been complex, fragmented, and inaccessible, but the Path to Scale dashboard aggregates this information into a user-friendly online platform with tools to filter, analyze, and export funding data. These tools enable donors, rightsholders, and their allies to analyze where funding is flowing, identify key opportunities to scale up support, and inform their own research and advocacy efforts to mobilize and directly channel more support for IP, LC, and ADP tenure rights and forest guardianship.

The launch of the Path to Scale dashboard is also accompanied by a new analysis, titled, “State of Funding for Tenure Rights and Forest Guardianship.” This brief analyzes key funding trends from 2011-2023, focusing on developments since 2020 and the IPLC Forest Tenure Pledge. Overall, the analysis finds that more coordination is required amongst donors, governments, implementing organizations, and rightsholders to advance direct, locally led funding arrangements, as well as ensure that community rights and conservation efforts are mutually supportive.

Key findings include the following:

  • Global climate funding for IP, LC, and ADP tenure and forest guardianship averaged US$517 million per year between 2020 and 2023, up 36% over the preceding four years. About 72 percent of the increase was driven by the Forest Tenure Funders Group (FTFG).
  • This funding also increased in all regions and is being dispersed across more countries. From 2016 to 2019, 38 countries received an average of at least $1 million per year in relevant funding, but this grew to 47 countries between 2021 and 2023. In 2023, Africa received more funding than Latin America for the first time.
  • The proportion of total funding from private foundations rose from 8% to 17%, although most funding for IPs, LCs, and ADPs is still driven by bilateral and multilateral sources.
  • Despite an overall rise in funding, there is no evidence indicating a systematic change in funding modalities or more direct donor funding to IP, LC, and ADP organizations. Current funding levels are also inadequate given the extent of unrecognized community claims to land and forests, existing law and policy, and the estimated costs to secure these rights.
  • Local rightsholder organizations mainly receive funding indirectly through international and national NGOs and conservation organizations, though many new rightsholder-led regranting mechanisms have emerged since 2020 to deliver more direct support. Still, demands and opportunities far exceed the funding available.
  • Donors are predominantly funding activities with conservation, climate, and development outcomes as the primary objective ($307 million in 2023) compared to activities focused on tenure and rights-related outcomes ($138 million in 2023) – although these efforts have important synergies.