November 8, 2021

Strengthening Female-led Conservation to Combat Climate Change

To celebrate the launch of the ICONIQ Impact Climate Equity Co-Lab, we're highlighting the four portfolio organizations fighting climate change by strengthening female-led conservation and land stewardship.

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The world is losing its biodiversity at an alarming rate. Natural habitats are being destroyed. Desertification is degrading once fertile lands. These are some of the most insidious effects of climate change that are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of women across the globe. In rural areas of the Global South, women are dependent on biomass—such as timber, crops, and animal waste—for survival. As fuel collectors, water suppliers, and smallholder farmers, they rely on the land and its natural resources and are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation.

In areas where deforestation is rampant, women and girls must walk farther to collect wood (the world’s most widely used solid fuel source) and water. In poor and secluded villages, this physically exhausting task can take anywhere from two to 20 hours per week, limiting the time they would have to earn money, engage in community events, and attend school. For smallholder female farmers, agricultural crops—which are both a source of sustenance and income—have become scare and unpredictable due to intense heat, desertification, and flooding.

Yet women—despite their deep connection to these natural resources—have been largely excluded from environmental decision-making processes and disempowered from protecting and preserving their land. Meanwhile, climate change is accelerating.

To help drive sustainable solutions, ICONIQ Impact’s newly-launched Climate Equity Co-Lab, a $50M philanthropic fund, will support 13 high-impact organizations at the intersection of climate change, gender equity, and poverty. Each of the fund’s thirteen organizations falls into one of four key pillars: Supporting female-led conservation and land stewardship (as described above); improving sustainable agricultural practices; providing access to climate-related training and employment; and supporting smaller, hyper-local organizations via trusted re-granters.

The ICONIQ Impact Climate Equity Co-Lab is honored to partner with the following organizations focused on female-led conservation and land stewardship to combat climate change:

  • Native Movement: In the United States, Native Americans’ lands have been routinely exploited, leaving most indigenous people in poverty. Extractive industries have not only increased pollution but also and increased violence against native women near extraction sites. Native Movement is an indigenous- and female-led organization that supports Alaskan communities battling extractive oil and gas industries. They empower indigenous people—particularly women and those living in poverty—to defend their homes from the environmental degradation caused by the fossil fuel industry.
  • UNES: Almost a quarter of El Salvador’s population lives in poverty, and the country’s women and girls face persistent financial exclusion, job insecurity, and violence. The country is located near the equator, placing it at increased risk of severe weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels. UNES embraces an ecofeminist approach—a belief in the deep interconnection of ecological and feminist movements—to create a more equitable and sustainable future for El Salvador. They educate communities, fishermen and women, farmers, and indigenous villagers about climate change mitigation and adaptation, and facilitate trainings with grassroots groups to better enable them to protect their own ecosystems.
  • CHIRAPAQ: Indigenous women in Peru depend on the Amazon rainforest for their livelihoods. However, they’ve historically been left out of environmental decision-making processes. The Amazon struggles with rampant deforestation which not only harms the livelihoods of indigenous women and communities but also hastens climate change. CHIRAPAQ fights for the rights of indigenous women in the Andean and Amazonian regions to govern their own land. They promote the economic engagement of indigenous Peruvian women, helping them achieve greater equity, food security, and protection against resource exploitation.
  • Mwambao: Eight million people live along Tanzania’s coast, which has a diverse marine ecosystem critical to the livelihood of local small-scale fishers, the majority of whom live in poverty. Approximately 60,000 people, many of whom are women, are directly employed in fisheries, boat construction, seaweed cultivation, and octopus harvesting. The health of Tanzania’s coast is threatened by poor resource management, ocean warming, and acidification due to climate change, a growing coastal population, and overfishing with hazardous, harmful practices such as dynamite fishing. Mwambao is one of the few organizations working to protect Tanzania’s coastal resources, a critical source for locals’ livelihoods and carbon sequestration. They protect and preserve coastal resources by collaboratively managing fisheries, engaging community members in preservation efforts, and providing microloans for marine resource protection.
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