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Exploring the Barriers, Opportunities, and Impacts of Directly Funding Conservation Initiatives Designed and Led by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Research Location: Palawan, Philippines
Conservation Partner: Centre for Sustainability PH

Student Researcher

Anna Lowe '24, Major: Integrative Conservation, Minor: Environmental Sustainabililty

Student Researcher
Jerlyn Bassinga (Western Philippines University)
Faculty Mentors
Dr. John Swaddle and Erica Garroutte
Project Description

Despite growing recognition of the important role that Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) play in the protection of the world’s ecosystems, IPLCs face significant barriers and discrimination when it comes to accessing, utilizing, and maximizing the impact of funding for their community-led conservation initiatives. There is growing acknowledgment and interest among foundations for supporting IPLCs with conservation initiatives, but the funding systems, criteria, and application process is often limiting for IPLCs. This results in IPLCs not applying for opportunities, not directly receiving funds, and/or not having the decision-making power to determine how to best utilize these funds, ultimately inhibiting opportunities to maximize the conservation impact of foundational support by directly supporting the IPLCs who know how to best conserve their ecosystems.

There are numerous foundations that are committed to directly supporting IPLCs in their conservation effort but do not have relationships with IPLCs needed to explore how to make their funding systems and criteria accessible, equitable, and beneficial. The Centre for Sustainability PH, a women-led, youth, environmental NGO based in Puerto Princesa City, Philippines, is committed to conserving critical ecosystems through community organizing with IPLCs.

Through the successful community-led establishment of protected areas in Palawan through community organizing, scientific research, & political lobbying, they have demonstrated that when IPLCs are given direct access and authority over funds, conservation impacts are maximized. In collaboration with the Centre for Sustainability PH and faculty mentors from William & Mary and Western Philippines University, Anna and Jerlyn explored the barriers, opportunities, and impact of bridging the gap between foundations and IPLCs to maximize conservation impact, using the Centre for Sustainability PH and its collaborations with wider IPLC communities as a case study.

Project ID - Format
22-016-22 - CRP Year