Grassroots-Accountable Organizations Will Move Millions to Grassroots-Led Climate Solutions
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Yesterday, Bezos Earth Fund announced its latest round of climate funding, which includes awards to several grassroots-accountable organizations who hold distinct roles in the Climate Justice movement and are directly accountable to environmental, climate, and economic justice communities. As such, these organizations will move millions to support grassroots-led climate solutions, transferring capital from the extractive economy to regenerative economies. The dignified labor of our communities built this wealth — at an unconscionable human and environmental cost that resulted in severely diminished health for entire communities and the long-term pollution of local environments. Together, the many and powerful grassroots-led and grassroots-accountable formations in the Climate Justice movement are doing just the opposite — enacting bold visions for a livable planet that center justice, equity, and well-being as true measures of success.
While we commend the Bezos Earth Fund for moving more money to the grassroots — which we have been calling for since Jeff Bezos announced the creation of the fund — we remain firm in our position that continued and substantial flow of capital to the grassroots organizing sector, at an accelerated rate, is imperative for the Earth Fund and climate philanthropy at large, if they are to align their commitments to racial and environmental justice with the urgency of the climate crisis. The Earth Fund’s recent commitments to frontline communities, coupled with the recent new leadership of Danielle Deane-Ryan as Director of Equitable Climate Solutions — who holds direct relationship with Climate Justice movement leaders — are right steps to take. But they are also only a beginning.
Receiving money accumulated from the same economy that is causing the crises we are meant to solve is not just controversial, but full of contradictions. We acknowledge this tension. In fact, the Just Transition framework, which holds the wisdom of a multitude of frontline communities and guides our movement for Climate Justice, illustrates how navigating contradictions is inherent in this time of transition. We will confront many conflicts that arise along this path of transition, and one major complexity is that of returning wealth to the communities that generated it and have paid the greatest price in the extractive economy.
We call on the Bezos Earth Fund, and all of climate philanthropy, to:
- commit to funding grassroots-led climate solutions,
- ensure their funding strategies do not cause or perpetuate harm,
- be intentional so that their actions do not further concentrate wealth and power, and
- advance transformative shifts, following the lead of frontline communities, that move us toward regenerative economies, grounded in equity.
We offer the People’s Solutions Lens as a tool for funders who are taking their first step or are already deeply in the practice of moving transformational and reparatory funding to Climate Justice. These five simple questions distinguish real climate solutions that work for communities, workers, and the planet from false promises that preserve the status quo: Who tells the story? Who makes the decisions? Who benefits, and how? What else will this impact? How does this build or shift power?
Competition, separation, and disconnection all characterize the extractive economy that we live in. To contend with this reality in this time of heightened and multiple crises, we must follow the lead of visionary grassroots leaders who are centering and advancing self-determination, power-building, and local control of resources through models of food sovereignty, energy democracy, worker-owned cooperatives, and solutions that advance Just Transitions toward local, living, regenerative economies.
A few things we know for sure: grassroots-led climate solutions cool the planet and are ready for investment now; collective governance at the local level is a winning strategy; and there is no shortage of capital to address the interconnected crises of climate change and an extractive, exploitative economy that brought the planet to this point. We invite funders to join us in the fight for Climate Justice.