Katingan Mentaya Project Discusses How Local Community-Led Projects Can Make A Difference In The Fight Against Climate Change

Mitigating Greenhouse gases and world carbon & Methane emissions is a huge Challenge. Local communities have a major role to play in this. By itself, the world climate change issue may be too big to tackle for many countries, but if looked at as an outcome of many local issues, it is possible to have a corrective action plan that is founded at a local community-level engagement.

By thinking locally, we can act in an array of small actions to achieve reduced emissions and help the global population.

How can local impact against global warming be effective?

The Communities vs Climate Change report points out that ‘the latent commitment and pride of communities is central to the levelling up agenda’. Global warming can have different impacts and meanings for different places and people, and so it is doubly important for all those affected to have a seat at the table and a voice in the debate when we draw up policies and action plans. In fact, communities should be viewed as partners in resilience-building and not simply as beneficiaries.

A central role of communities in the changing climate environment can help ensure that the decarbonization process is equitable and empowering for all. This requires campaigning to reduce emissions, transparency around raising temperatures, information access of climate impacts from fossil fuel use, building capacity for natural resources, funding future large scale ecosystem protection, and citizen engagement in cutting emissions and protecting natural ecosystems.

People have to be brought along in the choices to be made for the future. But the potential of communities must be acknowledged and unlocked before we can galvanise local action to support global choices and combat climate change on the ground. There are three main features of community action that are key to any coherent climate action policy:

  • Responsiveness – By virtue of proximity to conditions on the ground, local project area action can be responsible and flexible in ways that national or international action cannot.
  • Legitimacy – External agents may not find the kind of acceptance with local people that local action from the ground level has. Human activity at a community level has inherent legitimacy and doesn’t suffer the pushback that is often a natural response to top-down approaches.
  • Power over adaptation – The impact of global warming can vary from place to place and manifest in several different ways – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, global temperature rise, air pollution, food shortages, forest degradation, and so on. As such, it is necessary that climate policies and actions be adapted to the needs of the local area. Local action to maintain tropical forests and help developing countries is better equipped to curb the negative impacts of temperature rises than simply relying on international action.

Now that we know the potential of local action in the fight against climate change, we need to assess the key actors that operate at the local level.

  • Communities – are by far the most important actors at the local level. They can help build powerful alliances between local people, businesses, and volunteers. Their response to daily matters of local life can have some climate impact even when not focused on climate change. Their role is central to ‘levelling up’ the way economic and climate goals are set and actioned out. According to World Bank expertise, community leaders can set priorities, influence ownership, and design and implement investment programs that are responsive to their community’s own needs.
  • Local Governments – are formed of local people living in the community. An established council has certain authority and legitimacy, even in the absence of sufficient resources, which can help accelerate climate action at the local level. Councils can spread awareness and influence constituents towards energy-efficient lifestyles; such as low-carbon public transport, encouraging cycling and walking, and greening neighbourhoods with parks and gardens.  They can mobilise community action where there is none, and facilitate active communities to have a greater impact, as well as convene networks of local stakeholders for collective action.


Beyond people and councils, there are third-party organisations like local businesses, volunteer groups, civil sectors, etc. who can play a role in facilitating climate action on the ground.

What is the potential of local community-based action against climate change?

Communities bring to the table unique perspectives, insights, knowledge, and skills when building resilience against climate change, and the IPCC’s latest report on Climate Change recognizes the value of these diverse forms of indigenous and local knowledge in creating a strong climate system and protecting endangered species.

Community-based action is a powerful force against climate change and there are ways in which it can reach its full potential.

  • The wider community should be represented, heard, and accounted for.
  • The needs and issues of the local community need to be prioritised and climate action should be adapted accordingly.
  • Local stakeholder networks and coalitions of support should be built proactively to help sustain community-based climate action.
  • Governments and third-party organisations should invest in the capacity-building of community groups.
  • Local solutions should be developed for sustainable energy access, commuting, waste management, and food production.
  • Campaigning to overcome behavioural barriers and encourage behavioural change.
  • Implementing the sharing economy or collaborative consumption.


Are there any successful examples of community-led projects tackling climate change?


A wonderful example of a successful community-action project is of the people in the District of Toledo in Belize. More than 500 million people in the world today do not have access to basic services, of which the people in several villages of Toledo do not have easy or affordable access to electricity since they are placed away from the national electricity grid.

But three Mayan solar engineers – Florentina Choco, Miriam Choc, and Cristina Choc – are building solar energy systems with funding from a small grants program and helping small local communities gain access to renewable energy. It is living proof that renewable energy can help at a local level as over 1000 residents in Southern Belize, including those in some of the remotest communities in the area have access to green energy. In Graham Creek, just one of the villages, they powered 25 homes with 150 residents as well as a primary school.

Aided by local networks and national authorities, the project has helped avoid 6.5 tons of global carbon emissions and is driving the sustainable development agenda through community-led projects.

How has Katingan Mentaya Project helped tackle climate change through community-led projects?

The Katingan Mentaya Project in Indonesia works in partnership with local communities to utilise carbon finance through selling carbon credits for natural forest protection projects. This is aided through implementing activities aligned with Sustainable Development Goals via reducing greenhouse gas emissions and restoring forests. They drive and support multiple community-led projects that help avoid the emissions of nearly half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, promote equal rights for all and .

  • In Babirah village in Indonesia, the Katingan project has set up a forest and land fire post. The posts act as early warning systems for forest fires in the peat swamp forest area in Indonesia. Villagers can carry out prevention strategies in their community and use these posts to spot peatland wildfire smoke and store firefighting equipment.
  • In 2018, KMP introduced the Coconut Sugar Training Programme in Kalimantan, helping local people switch from unsustainable and dangerous illegal logging to sustainable sugar farming. The project helps local communities build safer human health conditions while promoting sustainable measures to protecting the local forest area.
  • Another one of KMP’s sustainable development projects is the Agroecology Farming Programme, which encourages farmers to take a burn and chemical-free approach to land clearing as a way to reduce the practice of slash and burn, especially that of burning fossil fuels. This program has assisted 800 Indonesian farmers since 2020, contributing to the protection of soil quality across 780 hectares of agricultural land and mitigating climate change through education, community action, and sustainable farming.

Climate change is a policy challenge of our times that will impact all our lives in small and big ways. By focusing on levelling up the power of communities, we can help ensure that community-led action plays its part in fighting climate change and developing sustainable solutions for a better future.