Indigenous Desert Alliance: growing Indigenous-led conservation
Against the backdrop of increasing environmental threats, there is a growing body of evidence that Indigenous peoples understand and manage their environment better than anyone else. Despite the growing evidence, Indigenous-led responses receive only a small proportion of global conservation funding. As the result, local communities are limited in their capacity to deliver climate or biodiversity outcomes.
The Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA) is an Indigenous controlled, member-based organisation that plays a vital role in advancing Indigenous-led responses that protect and heal country. Recognising the pressing need to grow the pool of funding that is directed towards Indigenous-led solutions, IDA wanted to explore opportunities that could attract greater investment and unlock the full potential of Indigenous-led conservation.
The Indigenous Desert Alliance sought to develop an Indigenous-led philanthropic funding model that brings together philanthropists and more than 60 Indigenous ranger teams to deliver globally significant, nature positive projects.
SVA Consulting was engaged to support Indigenous Desert Alliance to design a philanthropic funding model for landscape-scale, Indigenous-led conservation, then develop a business plan to support the funds implementation.
The role we played
We began by teaming-up with Indigenous Desert Alliance, its members, sector experts and funders to understand their aspirations for the design, purpose and objectives of the fund. We then undertook research and engaged with legal experts to identify and evaluate various models that would support IDA’s aspirations for the fund. Next, we worked with IDA to develop an Indigenous-led governance structure and operating model for the fund once the preferred model was agreed. Finally, we developed a financial model to understand the estimated costs for delivering the fund, and brought these elements together.
“Our membership tasked us to develop a model, which is directly responsive to servicing the strategic aspirations of Traditional Owners in the desert to care for their Country. Working with SVA’s team has enabled us to develop a robust structure which supports this vision, whist providing the opportunity and security to funders to invest in Indigenous driven conservation projects, backed and supported in their delivery by the IDA.”
CEO, Indigenous Desert Alliance
IDA now has a fit for purpose philanthropic structure, the Indigenous Desert Alliance Foundation, and a funding model. The funding model responds to the needs of IDA’s members and ranger groups; it provides Traditional Owners with right sized, appropriate funding to respond to and care for the needs of the desert.
The design of an Indigenous-led funding model recognises and values the deep knowledge of Traditional Owners and ranger groups and provides a supported model that invests in Indigenous leadership in caring for Country. It also offers funders the opportunity to amplify impact by supporting Indigenous-led approaches and engaging directly in projects that strengthen both self-determination and conservation. For example:
- Extra support for monitoring and management of desert biodiversity with research that prioritises cultural values and intergenerational knowledge transfer
- Infrastructure and technology resourcing for desert rangers to access remote areas safely and frequently
- Seed funding initiatives that require business planning and access to both regional and international land management support networks.