The Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF) was established in 2016 as a pooled fund. It supports women, young and indigenous peoples in geographies where the impacts of climate change are already severe. The fund aims to build the capacity of people to create and advocate for their own solutions to the climate crisis.
Climate change is already threatening livelihoods around the world. The challenges are greatest for people who are directly exposed to the impacts of climate change because public institutions and societal structures fail to support and protect them. Therefore, empowering these people to develop new skills and knowledge is a crucial aspect of strengthening their resilience against climate change. However, the funding strategy Capacity Building only becomes effective in combination with other approaches that advocate for structural changes.
Application in Practice
Most of the Capacity Building efforts of the CJRF are embedded in larger projects with multiple activities. In particular, CJRF likes to make sure that Capacity Building and other technical activities are linked to advocacy and scaling. For example, mentorship on business skills by its partner BOMA is just one element of a women’s empowerment programme that also includes formation of savings groups and engagement in local land management committees. In addition, it is important to consider which groups of people to involve in order to achieve the desired impact. It is essential to consider these constellations when deciding for the appropriate form of Capacity Building.
In this work, the CJRF prioritises exchange of people with similar life experiences. Through four grants to the Huairou Commission, CJRF has enabled exchanges between women leaders from Kenya and India. By sharing farming practices or strategies to communicate with the government, this has helped women to build leadership skills and climate resilience.
CJRF supports its partners to provide Capacity Building along the needs of local stakeholders, so the outcomes vary depending on the local context. Results reach from leadership skills and awareness of people’s legal rights to expertise in new farming practices.
Moreover, the capacity that people develop goes beyond technical skills. The CJRF recognises solidarity as an important criterion for success: Being aware that there are peers in other places of the planet is an important factor in creating momentum, getting people to stand up for their rights and implement their own solutions to climate resilience.
What has worked well?
- Support peer-to-peer learning: The transfer of knowledge and skills faces fewer barriers when it takes place in peer-to-peer exchanges compared to one-way delivery of information.
- Work with grantees to define the aims of Capacity Building: Openness towards stakeholders’ needs leads to better Capacity Building. Grantees know best what challenges they face and in which areas they need to develop their skills.
- Combine Capacity Building with other funding strategies: Capacity Building is more than just trainings. Skills, knowledge, and confidence often grow only through experience. Organisational capacity requires strategy, systems and culture. Moreover, Capacity Building as a funding strategy can facilitate lasting change only when embedded in a wider theory of change. Assess how different funding strategies can work together by looking at Capacity Building as services to other activities.
What are opportunities for new funders?
- Create room for manoeuvre: Sometimes Capacity Building means rest, or flexibility to work outside of projectized funding cycles. Grants for sabbaticals, or simply to cover the time of senior staff, can create breathing room to build creativity, boldness, and other key leadership skills.