By International Funders for Indigenous Peoples Staff
“We are not small islands. We are a vast oceanscape,” said Maureen Penjueli at the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples’ Pacific Hui convening in Otaki, New Zealand, last year. Penjueli underscored that Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific Islands were on the frontlines protecting their ancestral territories and lifeways from seabed mining to climate change.
Recognizing that over the last decade there have been a growing number of efforts by funders to develop new kinds of partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and local communities in support of the stewardship of their land and seascapes from a variety of conservation, environmental and social justice perspectives and ways of working. Last December, IFIP held a convening on Philanthropy with Indigenous Peoples around Territorial Stewardship for funders and Indigenous Peoples.
Through such listening sessions, like the IFIP Pacific Regional Hui and the Territorial Stewardship convening, IFIP board and staff members have been privileged to hear directly from funders and Indigenous Peoples on the complexity of supporting and partnering on Indigenous rights and management of lands, seascapes, territories, and resources. Our members also recognized that for philanthropy to respond to Indigenous Peoples, a shift was needed in the funding philosophy, values, and practice.
Propelled by listening sessions, convenings, and IFIP’s new strategy, in April, IFIP launched the Indigenous Territories Working Group to facilitate a collaborative space for IFIP members on issues that relate to stewardship of land and seascapes, self-determined management of resources, climate resilience, and protection of biocultural diversity. At the launch, funders enthusiastically welcomed a collaborative learning space to help navigate difficult issues around ability to fund contentious and politicized topics, especially as it relates to land, territory and Indigenous defenders.
“The growing examples of Indigenous-led funding – an essential shift in decision-making is demonstrating wise approaches on how to address these threats – alongside examples of self-determined territorial management or care taking, which is at the center of protecting lands and waters,” said Sonja Swift, board member of IFIP.
The Working Group will engage in peer learning and networking and design pathways towards improved coordination among funders. The Working Group will also explore strategies for advancing Indigenous Peoples’ rights over their territories, assess the current funding landscape and leverage opportunities for cross-sector collaboration.
IFIP’s Indigenous Territories Working Group endeavors to cultivate partnerships among Indigenous communities, donors, and allies to advance funding practices grounded in Indigenous values and respect for Indigenous Peoples’ cosmovision as an effective way to protect land and seascapes ecosystems.
IFIP’s Working Groups are open to members only. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.