For its initial grantmaking, the CJRF will focus on three regions where climate change is already affecting landscapes and livelihoods: East Africa, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arctic. We have included locations in the "Global South" and a marginalized region of the "Global North" to explore the relevance of climate justice across cultures and contexts. Resilience-building activities already underway in these regions give a foundation for replication and scaling of CJRF's work and create the possibility of measuring our impact in the medium term (i.e. 3-5 years). Please note that during 2017, we are refining our regional strategies through convening and site visits. This process was completed for the Bay of Bengal in May; updates for East Africa and the Arctic are forthcoming.  

east africa

East Africa lacks a clear directional climate trend (other than overall warming). Models suggest the region will get wetter on average over the long term, but the more significant trend observed to date appears to be increased variability in precipitation. This variability includes: increasingly unreliable rainy seasons, an unusual frequency of severe droughts, and significant flooding associated with more frequent downpours.   These climatic changes interface with a highly diverse landscape of cultures, livelihoods, and ecosystems in East Africa. Vulnerable communities are confronting a nexus of population growth, increasingly irregular rainfall, and a range of manifestations (both good and bad) of East Africa’s aspirations for prosperity.

Around 90% of Kenya’s land area, and over 50% of Tanzania’s, is arid or semi-arid. CJRF will focus the majority of its East Africa grantmaking in these “drylands,[1]” where climate justice issues are stark and where solutions developed will have relevance in neighboring countries. The drylands are typically areas with high poverty, rapidly growing populations, a diversity of indigenous groups, and poor infrastructure. In this context, our work will apply the pillars of the CJRF strategic framework to support communities to achieve three inter-linked objectives:

  • Decision-making That Responds to Local Priorities:
    • Grand visions for national development and large infrastructure projects are beginning to garner investment in East Africa. CJRF seeks to foster climate-resilient development and prevent lock-in of climate risk by helping to raise youth, indigenous, and women’s voices: in large-scale infrastructure development projects; local and national climate and development policy-making; and the creation and implementation of national climate finance systems.
  •  Climate-Resilient Land Management:
    •  In East Africa’s drylands, land degradation typically results from overuse or misuse of agricultural and grazing lands, or from mining, deforestation, and other extractive processes. Land degradation undermines community resilience and compounds existing vulnerabilities to flood and drought.  Meanwhile, flood and drought themselves can compact and contaminate soil, exacerbate erosion, drain away nutrients, and undermine land productivity in several other ways. CJRF seeks to foster climate-resilient land management by communities in arid and semi-arid areas through movements to secure fair and effective community land tenure and community-driven movements to share and replicate climate-resilient land management practices.
  •  Jobs and Livelihoods That Fit the Future:
    • Climate change has the potential to undermine East Africa’s development, or at least contribute to unequal distribution of development benefits. Many people already live “on the margin” in the region’s drylands, and depend for their income and subsistence on highly climate-sensitive land and water resources. In this context, development faces significant challenges to generate satisfying work and sustainable livelihoods for growing populations. Youth are disproportionately impacted by unemployment in the region. Climate justice demands that development work build long-term resilience, and that includes for those who tend to get left behind. This is especially important for the large youth population. To this end, CJRF’s work in East Africa will seek opportunities to support entrepreneurship and enterprise development, as well as modernization and revitalization of pastoralism.

[1] We use this lay term here to refer to the more precisely defined “arid and semi-arid lands” (ASALs).

The bay of Bengal

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The Bay of Bengal is one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable regions. The specific areas selected for the CJRF – the delta areas of Orissa, West Bengal, and Bangladesh – face frequent cyclones, storm surge, and riverine flooding, along with growing monsoon variability and sea level rise.  These impacts are exacerbated by rapid land subsidence on the coast and glacial melt upstream in the Himalayas.  Meanwhile, cyclones, monsoon downpours, and heat waves are all projected to become more frequent, unpredictable, and intense.  Long coastlines, low-lying areas, dense populations, and the low socio-economic and political status of many coastal communities combine to make rising seas of particular concern. A one meter rise in sea level along the coast of Bangladesh could potentially submerge a fifth of the country and turn 30 million people into "climate migrants."[1] Moreover, salinization is affecting both soil and water quality, with serious implications for food and water security.  In this context, our work will apply the pillars of the CJRF strategic framework to support coastal communities to achieve four adaptation objectives:

  • Sustaining Rural Development:
    • Access to freshwater, technologies for farming saline soil, and successful diversification to new sources of income and nutrition all represent critical needs for sustaining rural development in the Bay of Bengal’s changing climate. The CJRF aims to ensure interventions in these areas benefit women, landless laborers, and fisherfolk, and that community-driven solution sets go to scale.
  • Building Equitable Systems for Resilience:
    • As the climate changes, Bay of Bengal residents increasingly face floods, storms, and short-term livelihood failures, which creates a greater reliance on what the CJRF terms “resilience systems.”  We seek to support advocacy and movement building that enable communities to shape these systems, including physical protection systems (embankments, mangroves, water infrastructure), social safety nets, and national, state, and local planning processes.
  • Livelihood Diversification Through Migration:
    • Short-term and partial-household migration can represent a powerful source of household resilience when migrants find good jobs and safe living situations, send remittances regularly, and when those at home make the most of remittances. CJRF seeks to make grants that explore emerging patterns of migration in the region, identify success factors, and address gender-related migration challenges and opportunities.
  • Successful Permanent Relocation:
    • Permanent relocation of families and communities is already happening in parts of the Bay where sea level rise, storm surge, and erosion have combined to make some places uninhabitable.  As time passes, more and more parts of the region will face these dire circumstances.  CJRF seeks to support communities, families, and individuals in building assets and capabilities that can enable successful, rights-based relocation in the long run. This includes through youth training and leadership development, and though community-driven planned relocation pilots.      
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CJRF recognizes that, in many places where we work, relocation is all but inevitable in the long-run.  But on-site adaptation and resilience-building can help families delay migration, take a gradual approach, and build strengths that can enable relocation to succeed.  In this way, the above four objectives are intended to support and reinforce each other; moreover, any one of them could potentially build upon any one of the CJRF’s five “pillars of work.”  CJRF’s opportunity across all four objectives in the Bay of Bengal is to support empowerment, security, dignity, self-determination, and successful development.

[1] Megan Darby. "What will become of Bangalesh's climate migrants?" Climate Home News. August 14, 2017.

The Arctic

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world -- an astounding 5℃ in the past 100 years. Since the 1970s, 14% of Arctic sea ice has been lost, and at current rates, Arctic summer sea ice is likely to have completely disappeared by 2080. This extreme warming pattern has dangerous consequences for the millions of people who live in the Arctic, including risky travel across melting ice and tundra, and severe coastal erosion that is forcing whole communities to relocate. Indigenous populations are especially vulnerable, due to the fact that their culture, identity, language, traditional foods, and ways of life all rely heavily on Arctic land and waters. As warming proceeds, indigenous communities also must contend with growing in-migration and the expansion of the cash economy that comes from increased industrial and commercial activity.  CJRF seeks to help indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland strengthen their resilience by building leadership and decision-making capacity; maintaining, updating and augmenting traditional knowledge; and establishing political advocacy processes.  Intended outcomes include maintenance of indigenous peoples’ access to and co-management of traditional foods; and effective indigenous engagement in decision-making around relocation and industrialization.