Hivos website

Climate Justice

Alexandra Narvaez
Photo: Alianza Ceibo

At Hivos we approach the climate crisis as a political, social and ethical issue, rather than a purely environmental one. Its cause is clear: an unsustainable economic model that unequally distributes wealth and power in the world. At the same time, the climate crisis increases this inequality by affecting those who are least responsible the most.

People with low incomes and long histories of oppression are the ones facing the worst impacts, despite having contributed the least to the problem. But real, systemic change can only take place if the voices and solutions of people hit hardest by the climate crisis, including women, young people, Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups, are at the centre of inclusive climate action. Only then we will be able to achieve Climate Justice for all.

Pushing for Climate Justice in 2022

Below we highlight several of our efforts to put justice and equity at the heart of climate action in 2022

Yuliana (27) is a passionate young climate activist from Indonesia

Just distribution and local solutions

Our focus lies on a just distribution of resources and bolstering local solutions. We do so by promoting equitable access to climate finance, technology and markets. Climate finance and decarbonization plans and policies must swiftly, adequately and fairly support the people most affected and enable effective climate action at local levels.

  • For priority rightsholders and affected countries to get access to the funds they need, we have to target the transparency and accountability of climate finance flows and influence the global climate finance architecture.

    An obvious place to do this was the COP27 conference in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt in November 2022. Hivos and several partner organizations were part of various forums that combined efforts to address just climate finance. The establishment of a loss and damage fund to help developing countries pay for the mounting costs of climate-related disasters made it tempting to label the conference a historic moment.

    Unfortunately, COP27 failed miserably at accelerating progress on cutting emissions and delivering previously promised climate funding to the people that need it the most. This clearly shows that the system is still not working properly, but also that our movement is still not as powerful as we need it to be.

    A number of organizations, including Hivos, have endorsed the Principles for Locally-Led Adaptation. But following COP27, it is clear that far more is needed to deliver on this. Adaptation finance lags significantly behind, and much more must be made accessible for local actors. Hivos’ recent briefing paper shows ways for international donors and funds, as well as for intermediaries, to increase the effective flow of financial resources to the local level. It also examines existing mechanisms that could better channel resources to these kinds of solutions.

  • A key strategy of Hivos and our partners is to promote investment in local climate solutions driven by people in the Global South. Through our Voices for Just Climate Action program we aim to ensure that by 2025, local civil society and underrepresented groups will have taken on a central role as creators, facilitators and advocates of innovative climate solutions. What do these local solutions look like? They can take many forms, and include many different people:

    People like Zambia’s Chief Bunda Bunda, who attended COP27 as part of our initiative to localize the climate justice agenda. Together with other traditional leaders, he has already managed to get the Zambian government to listen to him and work on solutions together. But we also support Zambian women like Lucy Dende, who tackles climate change in her own inspirational manner, not letting her disability get in the way of her fight for a more sustainable future.

    Or the people who show why locally-led climate solutions can lead the way in Indonesia and Kenya, countries prone to extreme weather events caused by climate change. Projects are tailored to the local context, harnessing innovation and (traditional) knowledge to great effect. They also integrate socio-economic development with climate benefits, and – most crucially – allow communities to own their solutions.

    And there is Brazil's Rogerio Mendes, who follows in the footsteps of his assassinated uncle Chico Mendes. Chica was a rubber tapper, union leader and environmentalist who started advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples decades ago. Protecting the Amazon and its people against destructive forces is in Rogerios’ blood, and he will do anything to try to stop deforestation and all that comes with it.

  • High unemployment and lack of financing opportunities in North Africa for small and medium enterprises prevent young people – particularly women and marginalized groups – from developing their full potential. At the same time, rising temperatures and sea levels associated with climate change are expected to set economic development in the region back many years. So we want to align local approaches to climate change with development efforts that address poverty, unemployment, and sustainability and climate justice issues.

    The GreenWorks program, implemented by an alliance led by Hivos, contributes to climate change mitigation by creating sustainable business and job opportunities for more than 9000 young women and men in the green economy in North Africa.

    In 2022, Hivos launched the Challenge Fund for a Just Transition program, which aims to contribute to climate change mitigation by supporting green Small and Growing Businesses in North Africa and providing sustainable decent jobs for more than 10.000 people in the region’s green transition process.

  • In 2022 Hivos transferred its successful carbon finance programs to longstanding partners Yayasan Rumah Energi, Biogas Solutions Uganda Ltd., and African Bioenergy Programs Ltd.: a true case of local ownership. These organizations have become fully independent entities and will implement national biogas programs and associated carbon finance programs in Indonesia, Uganda and Kenya.

Building political power and influence

We build political power and influence by bringing diverse rightsholders and movements together. This way, they can better pressure governments and the private sector, engage in decision-making processes, and hold duty bearers to account. We have several aims. One is to stimulate movement building and advocacy. Another is to support those most affected by climate change in their efforts to access and utilize the legal system. And ultimately, we want to achieve changes in policies, plans and practices, and establish transformational legal precedents.

  • An inspiring example of exercising political power and influence comes from our All Eyes on the Amazon program. Since 2017, Indigenous leader Alexandra Narvaez has been fighting against the destruction of the Ecuadorian Amazon. With support from our program, she and her community achieved an unprecedented legal victory. A provincial court of Ecuador declared 52 mining licenses granted by the government null and void. This ruling protects 79,000 hectares of pristine rainforest. A great win for the indigenous people of the Amazon. Hopefully many more wins will follow.

    The program ended in December 2022 after five years of supporting Indigenous Amazonians in Peru, Ecuador and Brazil in their fight against deforestation, pollution, and rights violations. Implemented with Greenpeace and more than 30 local and international organizations, it was financed by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, for which we are very grateful. It combined state-of-the-art technology, like satellites and drones, with local knowledge and provided support to Indigenous peoples in the areas of technology, access to information, Indigenous and human rights, conservation, advocacy and law enforcement.

    The legacy of All Eyes on the Amazon lives on as part of Voices for Just Climate Action in Brazil.

  • Hosted by Hivos since 2016, ENERGIA’s advocacy and lobby activities foster gender equality in the energy sector and ensure that women’s voices are heard in the energy policy discussions and intergovernmental negotiations. The network targets governments, multilateral organizations, donors, financial institutions, utilities, and energy companies to promote equal and inclusive opportunities and create an environment where women can thrive.

    During the Covid-19 crisis, entrepreneurs all over the world were under pressure. This was also the case of the women who, with our support, had recently started their own sustainable business. In countries without a social safety net or government support, their situation was particularly vulnerable. But thanks to contributions from the Dutch public, they managed to keep their heads above water. We were able to help 1300 women entrepreneurs in 5 countries get through the corona crisis. This way they can continue to lead the way in the fight against both inequality and climate change.

  • At the beginning of 2023, Hivos announced the launch of Urban Futures, a new global program working at the intersection of urban food systems, youth wellbeing, and climate action. It will operate in intermediary cities in Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, supporting local partners and especially young people to drive more inclusive, climate-resilient cities and urban food systems. The program is supported by Fondation Botnar and is the result of a 2022 co-creation process with Hivos, the RUAF Global Partnership on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, Fondation Botnar, and local partners, networks and experts.

Urban Futures

Reshaping climate narratives

Hivos is reshaping climate narratives at local, national and international levels. Created by the voices and movements of key rightsholders, these narratives connect to peoples’ emotions and inspire behavioral change. By working on strategic communications targeting popular culture, and amplifying diverse rightsholders’ voices, we aim to “move the middle.” This will mobilize people across the world, and strengthen the global climate movement.

  • Art is a vital tool in mobilizing and strengthening movements worldwide as it enables people to communicate innovative ideas and issues quickly and powerfully for positive change. Various mediums, including visual art, music, film, poetry, and sculpture, strongly appeal to different people, enabling further advocacy efforts.

    This is why Hivos commissioned a study to learn more about the power of art. In particular, how it can be used in climate justice advocacy to mobilize and strengthen the climate justice movement through inclusivity, creativity and innovation.

  • Hivos works to make civil society heard and capable of influencing and co-creating locally-led, inclusive climate solutions as part of the larger global response. Also in the case of Pilato, a young and talented Zambian musician known for his artistic, at times controversial, music. He challenged over 250 students to join hands and work hard to stem the tide of climate change. “From our end, we are going to mobilize the students so that they come up with innovative projects. We want to work with Hivos to be part of the solution to climate change – not only in Zambia, but globally,” said Chalimbana University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Miyanda Simabwachi.

  • On the eve of Human Rights Day, ABN AMRO hosted its 8th International Human Rights Conference in Amsterdam. The event was dedicated to “A Just Transition” and the role that companies and financial institutions should play in ensuring that a future zero-carbon world is also a fair and inclusive one. Hivos CEO Anne Jellema joined the panel discussion to highlight the important role of people on the frontlines of the climate crisis. In a venue full of investors, bankers and financial people she stated boldly: “Now it is time to put people and planet before profit.” - a message that raised the eyebrows of more than one in the room.

  • Hivos and the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment collaborated with New Silk Roads and ElRehla to organize a Futures Lab in Sinai – Egypt, to explore the future of just green transitions in Africa.

    The Lab was organized on the heels of COP27 and convened pioneering entrepreneurs, scientists, climate enthusiasts, techies, investors, and civil society members from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Tunisia, Palestine and Uganda. Participants engaged in a “futures thinking” approach to construct four hopeful scenarios for localized climate adaptation to support the health of the planet, people, and societies. Here you can explore the four scenarios that were developed during the Futures Lab.

Working to achieve climate just societies

Every day, Hivos stands in solidarity with courageous women and girls in their quest for gender equality and a world where diversity is celebrated. Gender equality is an essential prerequisite for sustainable development and inclusive climate action. Advancing gender equality in the context of climate change and its impacts remains one of the most significant global challenges of our time.

‘’Women must be part of a just, climate-resilient transition,” writes Sheila Oparaocha of ENERGIA. The network, hosted by Hivos since 2016, contributes to universal, equal and equitable access to and control over sustainable energy for all, putting women at the center of our efforts. Our current political and economic system fails to ensure an equal and sustainable future that benefits all. So we need a just energy transition that not only puts people and the environment first, but also promotes inclusive and gender-transformative action. This is absolutely critical to address current and future challenges on a planet with limited resources and gaping inequities.

Find out more about how we aim to achieve climate-just societies

The white paper “Putting justice, equity and human rights at the core of global climate action” outlines the ambition, approach and Theory of Change. It underpins Hivos’ vision of a more just, fair, dignified, and prosperous society where key rightsholder groups and social movements from the Global South put their priorities and agency at the center of global climate action.

If you are interested in partnering with us, reach out Steven Hawkes (Climate Justice Program Development Manager):