We are delighted to share that the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) has received an unrestricted grant of USD 15 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to support the recognition of land and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples and local communities across the world – including the women within these groups.
RRI joins 465 non-profits who received funding from Ms. Scott this week following a rigorous due diligence conducted over the past year. A significant number of the grantees, which include RRI coalition members Landesa and Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA), have a focus on human rights and land rights in the Global South.
Ms. Scott said in her announcement this week, “Each non-profit in the list was selected through a rigorous process and has a strong track record of serving under-supported needs. If you are looking for a way to serve humanity’s common cause, every one of them is a great candidate.”
Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji, RRI’s Coordinator, said, “We are deeply appreciative of Ms. Scott’s generous support for our mission. Her commitment to thoughtful, far-reaching giving as reflected in this remarkable list of development organizations, presents a new and refreshing model for private philanthropies.”
Ms. Scott has supported 1,257 non-profits to date since she signed the “Giving Pledge” in 2019, a non-binding agreement launched in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates for billionaires to commit to giving away their wealth to those in need.
About 60% of the organizations selected by her are led by women, and 75% by people with lived experience in the regions they support and the issues they seek to address. The Rights and Resources Group, RRI’s coordinating mechanism, and its Board of Directors are both led by women, while the coalition includes several organizations representing Indigenous, Afro-descendant, peasant, and rural community women. Gender justice is a key cross-cutting theme in its advocacy and research, given women’s critical role in strengthening communities’ resilience to climate change and other environmental, economic, and socio-political shocks.
The grant will be applied across RRI’s wide-ranging global and regional programs. These include coalition-building in Asia, Africa and Latin America to support national advocacy movements for land rights policy reform; conducting and analyzing research that links collective land rights to global development goals; and creating spaces for constructive dialogue among private, public, Indigenous, and community stakeholders. RRI also creates tools to link local-level advocacy to key national and international development and climate processes.
Helping vulnerable communities helps everyone
Up to 2.5 billion people live in community arrangements worldwide, directly managing over half of the world’s land, including much of its remaining forestland and biodiversity hotspots. Globally, Indigenous Peoples and local communities have long been custodians of earth’s natural resources. Advancing their well-being – through recognition of their land rights and supporting their livelihoods – is essential to securing a healthy planet for all.
Ms. Scott wrote in her announcement that while the dividends of changes in attitude whenever disparate groups help each other are hard to trace, the trend line is clear. “Communities with a habit of removing obstacles for different subsets of people tend to get better for everyone,” she said.
Dr. Bandiaky-Badji said RRI’s ethos and the achievements of its coalition members fit well within the rationale behind its selection, and are why donors must continue to support its mission.
“RRI’s work to secure Indigenous, community, and Afro-descendant land rights has far-reaching impacts: it is about achieving systemic policy changes that ultimately advance national economies as well as global development goals, including helping the fight against climate change,” she said.