MPIDO and DGM show how capacity building for climate action reaches African IPLC organizations on the ground

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By Johnson Cerda and Regina Harlig

COP22, known as the COP of Action, will take key steps to build and mobilize the capacity of developing countries to meet and enhance their 2020 climate targets.  Recognition of the essential role that indigenous peoples and local communities play in climate change action is increasing, and the financial resources that are in proportion to that role must follow. 

The start of COP22 in Marrakech coincided with the ratification of the Paris Agreement, which acknowledges both the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights in climate action, and the role that traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems can play in supporting these actions.  While indigenous peoples and local communities are often included in REDD+ project-level efforts, they have not been fully included in REDD+ policy and strategy arenas, despite their key role as forest stewards.  Investment in the capacity building of all stakeholders is key to ensuring that the best practices generated by indigenous peoples and local communities are translated into broader policy commitments at the national level.

The Forest Investment Program (FIP), which funds the DGM, and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) are two such REDD+ funding initiatives with capacity building components that reach indigenous peoples and local communities across Africa at the grassroots level.  At a recent COP22 side event at the Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Pavilion, representatives of three African DGM country projects shared the stage with the Kenya-based Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), to offer their own experiences in REDD+ capacity building for indigenous peoples and local communities. 

At the event, Daniel Sapit explained the growing role of the FCPF of his organization, MPIDO, which is dedicated to combatting the marginalization of Maa pastoralists by focusing on issues such as food security, climate change mitigation, governance and conflict transformation, natural resource management, gender equity, and HIV and AIDS. Idrissa Zebba, chair of the DGM Burkina Faso National Steering Committee (NSC), Hayford Doudu, chair of the DGM Ghana NSC, and Guy Moussele-Diseken, chair of the DGM interim committee in Republic of Congo, provided updates on the status of community level capacity building in the context of the DGM projects in their countries. 

Investment in the capacity building of all stakeholders is key to ensuring that the best practices generated by indigenous peoples and local communities are translated into broader policy commitments at the national level.

The FCPF Capacity Building Program (CBP) originated from a series of regional dialogues between the FCPF and indigenous peoples’ representatives that began in 2007, and resulted in a formal request to support forest dependent indigenous peoples in building their capacity to engage in REDD+ activities at the national and regional levels.   Phase I of the FCFP CBP was established to provide forest-dependent indigenous people and local communities, and southern civil society organizations (CSOs) with information, knowledge and awareness on REDD+. The program was conceived to be demand-driven, in which forest-dependent indigenous peoples and southern CSOs made proposals to the FCPF based on their needs.  MPIDO was among the first 18 indigenous peoples’ organizations and seven CSOs from Asia, Latin America and Africa that received FCPF CBP funding for awareness-raising workshops, publication of training manuals and capacity building activities.  Selected as one of six organizations to implement Phase II of the FCPF CPB, MPIDO will be responsible for selecting and supporting small REDD+ capacity building projects in 18 African countries, including countries where DGM projects are being planned or implemented: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique.  Read more about MPIDO’s project here.

Like the FCPF, the FIP provides funding for building the capacity of indigenous peoples and local communities, some of which is channeled through DGM projects in the 14 participating countries in Africa Asia and Latin America. 

The DGM takes a two-pronged approach to capacity building for IPLCs.  At a national level, DGM provides support for indigenous peoples and local community organizations to prepare and submit proposals for local climate change projects in countries such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Republic of Congo. A National Steering Committee of indigenous peoples and local community representatives then selects which proposals are funded.  National Executing Agencies (CSOs chosen by the National Steering Committees in each country) provides support to all stakeholders at each stage of the process.

In both Ghana and Republic of Congo, the DGM has begun consultations with communities in order to prepare them for eventually submitting their own grant proposals.   Burkina Faso, one of the first DGM Country Projects to be approved, opened its first call for proposals in June 2016, and received over 650 proposals.  Selected proposal will begin implementation later in November. 

At the global level, the DGM Global Steering Committee organizes regional and global trainings, bringing indigenous peoples and local community representatives together to strengthen networks, share knowledge and build capacity for coordinated climate action across IPLC organizations.  With the support of the Global Executing Agency. As an example, prior to the COP22, the DGM organized global and regional trainings on various aspects of climate policy and climate finance.  Representatives of the GSC and other training participants can then share information and skills with their own organizations and communities. 

As countries prepare to implement the Paris Agreement, projects like the one that MPIDO is implementing through the FCPF and that Burkina Faso, Ghana and Republic of Congo are implementing through the DGM show how funding for capacity building to engage in climate action can reach indigenous peoples and local community organizations on the ground.  As Hayford Duodo of DGM Ghana observed, “Whatever [we] do in the community has some implication somewhere [else]… The forest is connected to the global [scale].”  The panelists emphasized the significant local, national and global role that indigenous peoples and local communities play in providing climate change solutions, through the coordinated support of initiatives like the FIP and FCPF.  The implementation efforts by MPIDO and the African DGM countries suggest even greater opportunities for partnership, whether it’s working with national and regional indigenous networks to inform climate change mitigation and adaptation action at the national and global levels, or building the capacity of members of the communities to sustainably manage forests.


Johnson Cerda is the Technical Director for the DGM Global Executing Agency.  Regina Harlig leads communications for the DGM Global Executing Agency.