Frontline Funds Accelerator: catalysing climate investment to the grassroots

The Frontline Funds Accelerator coalition seeks to speed up investment in grassroots-led ‘frontline funds’ for climate action. The coalition is anchored in individual and collective agency, co-production, climate justice and effectiveness.

Began April 2020
Karen Wong Pérez

Senior researcher (strengthening partnerships team), Climate Change research group

Mobilising money to where it matters
A programme of work helping to initiate a positive shift in the quantity and quality of climate finance reaching the local level to support locally-led solutions that address climate change, poverty and biodiversity loss
People sit on the floor around a map laid out on the floor

Women map their community in a Mumbai slum, India (Photo: copyright Slum Dwellers International)

Grassroots groups have repeatedly shown how, through hyper-localised knowledge and ability to self-organise, they mobilise quickly, effectively and equitably in response to multiple risks while building resilience.

‘Frontline funds’ are owned by and empower social movements and communities. They are governed from the grassroots through legitimate, equitable and functional governance arrangements. 

Managed from the bottom up, this finance can reach the most vulnerable people and support their efforts to address interlinking challenges including climate change and poverty.

Yet, grassroots-led funding mechanisms that leverage local resources and social capital are overlooked in the financing landscape. 

A coalition to champion our shared ten-year vision

The Frontline Funds Accelerator is a coalition of grassroots organisations, donors, philanthropy and development actors: IIED, the Huairou Commission, Slum Dwellers International, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund and the Global Resilience Partnership

Together we will advocate for donors to increase their funds and financial flows to grassroots organisations. Our four workstreams seek to bring about system-wide change that span work local and global levels.

The partnership is driven by principles of equity, co-production and mutual learning. We are committed to shared decision making and will allocate coalition activities equitably in line with our respective areas of expertise. The workstreams are:

  1. Donor engagement – changing the architecture of climate finance: under this workstream, the Frontline Funds Accelerator partners will engage strategically with funding institutions to make the case for increasing direct investment in grassroots organisations. Activities will generate and deepen dialogue between funders and grassroots organisations to create opportunities for shifting funding practices.
  2. Preparing grassroots organisations to engage with financial institutions: this workstream will prepare grassroots social movements to engage effectively with financial institutions through understanding international standards for financial management, undertaking internal self-assessments, designing capacity building strategies, and upgrading and operationalising institutional and financial systems.
  3. Social learning: this cuts across each of the other workstreams. It recognises learning as a social process between partners including the need to balance power differentials, manage constructive conflict and create spaces for open exchange and knowledge building.
  4. Building coalitions across grassroots movements to advocate for new financing approaches: ‘movement building’ enables grassroots organisations to put claims on resources and reposition themselves as partners rather than development beneficiaries. The Frontline Funds Accelerator will develop a strategy to build alliances across social movements to create space to support to grassroots-led efforts. 

What is IIED doing? 

IIED’s role in the Frontline Funds Accelerator is to find ways to transform business-as-usual into a ‘new normal’ that can multiply the potential of grassroots organisations as change-makers; advance climate justice; ensure that money and power gets where it matters; and leaves no one behind.

The work under the Frontline Funds Accelerator advances IIED’s mission to build a fairer, more sustainable world, using evidence, action and influence in partnership with others.

Additional resources

Principles for locally led adaptation, Marek Soanes, Aditya V. Bahadur, Clare Shakya, Barry Smith, Sejal Patel, Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Tamara Coger, Ayesha Dinshaw, Sheela Patel, Saleemul Huq, Muhammad Musa, M Feisal Rahman, Suranjana Gupta, Glenn Dolcemascolo, Tracy Mann (2021), Issue paper 

Why local leadership matters, Marek Soanes, Simon Addison, Clare Shakya (2020), IIED Briefing 

Good climate finance guide: lessons for strengthening devolved climate finance, Sejal Patel, Marek Soanes, M Feisal Rahman, Barry Smith, Dave Steinbach, Sam Barrett (2020), Working paper

Money where it matters: designing funds for the frontier, Marek Soanes, Clare Shakya, Anna Walnycki, Sam Greene (2019), Issue paper