Putting Communities At The Heart Of Climate Action

Learn how leaders in the GlobalGiving Climate Action Fund are fostering community-led climate action across the globe.


Alan Chumbe’s childhood is tinged with bittersweet nostalgia.

Now the Permaculture Research Coordinator for The Chaikuni Institute, Alan grew up in the ecological wonder that is the Peruvian Amazon.

“As a child I looked forward to the beaches on the rivers and to harvest the fruits during the dry season. I also looked forward to the rainy weather. Both seasons always occurred the same months, each year with impressive accuracy.”

As Alan matured, changes in global climate systems slowly transformed life as he knew it.

“Over time, climate change forced farmers to get used to the new sowing and harvesting cycles, the fish were less and less abundant and smaller in size, and so many things changed for us.”

Alan’s story is sadly one of many. Today, global climate change is not an issue for the distant future: it is, for thousands, a concrete reality.

This truth lies at the heart of GlobalGiving’s commitment to community-led climate action. Across the globe, we believe the people most affected by climate change have some of the most innovative and sustainable solutions for their communities.

When it comes to the global climate crisis, this truth is especially apparent. Changes in our climate have disproportionately impacted individuals who are already vulnerable: people living in rural areas, who live miles away from aid centers, hospitals, and even food and water sources. People experiencing poverty, who are unable to withstand the losses caused by extreme weather events. Women and racial minorities, who can face restricted access to resources even under normal circumstances.

Despite this sobering fact, the bulk of environmental conservation funding ends up in the hands of large NGOs. While large-scale nonprofits certainly have a critical role to play if we are to tackle global climate change, community-led climate action is just as crucial—and is far too often overlooked.

Each and every day, Globalgiving’s nonprofit partners are proving just how important local voices are in fostering long-term climate resilience.

“When a change agent combines knowledge of local settings and the needs of locals as they themselves perceive them, program design becomes a simple problem-solving exercise to connect local motivations to desired big picture outcomes,” Michael Shafer, founder of Warm Heart Worldwide, says.

This type of leadership and collaboration isn’t always easy. Aviram Rozin, a leader on Sadhana Forest’s reforestation project in Kenya, shared how he remains committed to community-led climate action despite the many challenges he’s faced.

“It is easier for me to live without making compromises on my principles. As a leader of Sadhana Forest in Kenya, I live in a structure made from local, natural materials and use only solar energy, as well as dry composting toilets. My motivation is sustained by the deep feeling that I am doing the right thing for myself, my family, people in our bioregion, humankind, all living beings, and Planet Earth.”

Alan, Michael, and Aviram are putting the vision and needs of the community first—a crucial step in solving the climate crisis.

The proof lies not in polished statistics or international agreements, but in lives transformed. The story of Loong Ai, one of the many individuals who were part of Warm Heart Worldwide’s pilot project in Thailand, is the perfect example.

“Loong Ai was considered too old to help with the corn harvest. At the end of December, when Warm Heart set up its first biochar demonstration, he came to watch. While the others picked corn, Loong Ai quietly made biochar from dawn to dark. By the time the harvest was finished and the rest of the villagers came to make biochar, Loong Ai had made so much money that he bought himself a pair of big water buffalo that he named ‘Oon’ and ‘Jai’—Thai for ‘Warm’ and ‘Heart,” Michael says.

Stories like Loong Ai’s don’t come from the parachuting efforts of INGOs. These successes are born from projects led by the community, for the community—and they require our collective support. We must stand behind local leaders—who understand the needs of their community better than anyone else—if we hope to tackle the global climate crisis and protect our home.

Thankfully, according to Alan, progress is possible with a simple shift from egocentrism to ecocentrism.

“Despite all obstacles, we can still live in peace with nature, benefiting each other, if we just stop thinking about the superiority of man on Earth. She is our mother and teacher, who teaches us that the solution to this and future crises is in this new generation, is in ourselves.”

GlobalGiving’s Climate Action Fund supports grassroots activists leading innovative conservation projects across the globe. With your support, we can build a brighter future for the entire planet!


Featured Photo: Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty by Opportunity International

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