Our Challenge

Communities around the world are grappling with environmental injustices. Indigenous Peoples are losing forests that have sustained their way of life for generations. City residents don’t know if their water is safe to drink. And farmers are struggling to protect their crops from an onslaught of climate impacts — droughts, floods, fires and rising seas — that they had little hand in creating.

These communities are disproportionately affected by environmental issues, yet they’re frequently left out of the decisions that impact their lives and the natural resources on which they depend. While some governments are trying to tackle these challenges, many lack the knowledge, capacity or funds to advance just solutions.


of the world's land is held by Indigenous Peoples and other local communities


people die from air pollution-caused diseases every year 


countries include the right to a healthy environment in their constitutions


Pollution costs the world’s economies more than $4.9 trillion annually

Our Approach

WRI works with governments, the private sector, civil society and citizens to address issues that matter most to vulnerable communities. We focus on social and financial equity, poverty, adaptation to climate change, environmental rights, pollution and responsive government.

We start with analyses of voice, power and vulnerability in environmental decision-making. Who suffers and who benefits when governments act? Who has a seat at the table, and who is left out? What do citizens need to shape policy?

We identify critical steps global leaders must take to ensure inclusivity, transparency and accountability. We build citizens’ capacity to engage in the environmental decisions that impact their lives and ensure more just, sustainable outcomes. And we mobilize civil society networks that drive bottom-up change and secure better futures for communities around the world.

Photo Credit: Paolo Nicolello/Unsplash

WRI's work on equity and governance includes Environmental Rights and Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

  • Young girl travels through lush forested landscape.

    Environmental Rights

    Protecting people and the planet by strengthening natural resource rights and ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has the information, voice and power to shape environmental decision-making.

  • Masai tribe in Tanzania walking outside.

    Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

    Helping communities protect their lands and the many benefits they provide

The Center for Equitable Development focuses on a number of specific initiatives, including projects on Energy AccessClimate GovernanceFaith and Sustainability, Gender, Defending Earth's Defenders and Environmental RightsExplore all projects in depth.

  • Indigenous peoples surveying a forested landscape


    LandMark is a global data platform of Indigenous and community lands to help communities protect their land rights and secure tenure.

  • women in field

    Climate Resilient and Transformative Adaptation for Agriculture

    WRI aims to help small-scale agricultural producers in low- and middle-income countries build resilience to climate change through research, analysis, advocacy and stakeholder engagement.

  • Silas Matoke and his wife Yordana Yawate, pose for photograph as they harvesting sago known as 'pangkur' on the banks of the Tuba river in Honitetu village, West Seram regency, Maluku province, Indonesia on August 22, 2017.

    Defending Earth’s Defenders Initiative

    Safeguarding the lives, livelihoods and rights of environmental defenders who act peacefully to protect the planet.

  • kutch sunset.jpg

    Energy Access Explorer

    An open-source data platform that provides mapping and tools to support inclusive, locally led approaches to achieving energy access for all people.

    Part of Energy

Media Contacts