Introducing the new Climate Justice Resilience Fund: investing in communities on the frontlines of climate change

Climate change has become one of the most contested terms in the English language today. The term inspires debate and fear. Why? Because a changing climate affects everyone in some manner – increased risks of storms, droughts, floods and other natural disasters, rising sea levels and changing temperature patterns are just some of the possible consequences. Without action, climate change could radically affect the world we know today, and could completely devastate some communities.  But together we can ensure people are protected from the greatest impacts of climate change.

Oak Foundation envisions a world where people most affected by climate change enjoy a right to a clean, healthy and safe environment. Today we are proud to launch the new Climate Justice Resilience Fund, which will invest in communities on the frontlines of climate change.  It will help communities adapt to climate change and build resilience, so that they can manage shocks, rebound and continue on a progressive pathway to sustainable development.

The Climate Justice Resilience Fund will prioritise the contributions and demands of women, youth and indigenous peoples in building community-led adaptive solutions. “The point of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund is to involve those who are most impacted by climate change to create solutions to live their lives to the fullest,” says Caroline Turner, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Oak Foundation, “I look forward to seeing how the Climate Justice Resilience Fund develops ¬– and how it complements the work of the Environment Programme.”

The Climate Justice Resilience Fund will support five key pillars: advocacy, access to information, local initiatives, movement infrastructure and leadership skills. This will be done through four key entry points: water; access; food security and sovereignty; sustainable livelihoods; and migration and relocation. “A lot of climate funding is focused on mitigation. Oak sees an opportunity to build the social justice element of climate philanthropy,” said Anne Henshaw, Environment Programme Officer at Oak and leader of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund at Oak Foundation. “The focus is on helping youth, women and indigenous people build a movement that will amplify their voices and help to develop their resilience to climate change.”

To launch the fund, we are pleased to announce that we have provided USD 20 million to New Venture Fund over the next six years to award grants to organisations that invest in communities most impacted by climate change in East Africa, the Bay of Bengal and the Arctic. Heather McGray will be joining New Venture Fund as Director of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund to implement the grant-making strategic framework, in coordination with Oak programme staff.  Heather has been working on climate change adaptation for nearly 10 years and served until recently as director of the Climate Resilience Practice at the World Resources Institute.  “I am honoured to take on this position,” she says. “I am inspired by the Climate Justice Resilience Fund’s constituencies — women, youth and indigenous people; their voices are very important and need to be heard. I am also hopeful that we will see our work generate even more funding in this area.”

Heather faces a formidable challenge – only about two per cent of foundation grants and spending around the world goes to addressing climate change each year. The percentage of this dedicated to helping frontline communities is even smaller. Therefore, one of the main goals of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund will be to increase philanthropic interest in and support for bringing justice to those who are feeling climate change “first and worst”.

As part of the development of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, Oak Foundation commissioned research on funding trends, the climate justice field and youth convenings, among others. All of this material will be available on our website in the coming weeks.

It is hoped that the Climate Justice Resilience Fund will help communities to identify and implement approaches to climate change adaptation and resilience, gain advocacy skills and access information to influence local, national and international level policy.

We will provide more information in the coming months on how to apply. In the mean time, please address any of your questions to

Check out CJRF's website here.

For more information read the strategic framework by clicking here.


© Anne Henshaw/Oak Foundation