The Rockefeller Foundation - Revalue Ecosystems

Revalue Ecosystems

Human use and transformation of natural ecosystems is rapidly exceeding our planet’s capacity to sustain the ecological conditions and services people need to survive and thrive. 

The Rockefeller Foundation pursues robust cross-sector approaches and market-based solutions that account for the numerous, yet often overlooked, value of ecosystems in development decisions and harness them as an asset for smart development, economic and social progress and long-term resilience. Click below to read one example of our work in 2012 – putting women front and center in the climate change discussion – and see the breadth of work in the Revalue Ecosystems focus area.



Women are disproportionately impacted by climate change and can play an important role in representing the needs of their community.

Explore four organizations the Rockefeller Foundation is supporting to ensure women are equally represented in climate change policy and response.

Da Nang Women’s Union






Vietnamese Women Unite to Protect their Homes

After tragic losses in the wake of increasingly violent and frequent storms, women in the Vietnamese coastal city Da Nang had finally had enough.

One of those women is Nguyen Thi Phuc Hoa, from international nonprofit Challenge to Change. She conducted an analysis of the vulnerability of female-headed households to typhoons and storm surges. In response, the Rockefeller Foundation provided a grant to ISET-Vietnam to partner with the Da Nang's Women Union to set up a revolving loan fund to help households upgrade and stormproof their homes.

For many, this means relatively simple improvements such as raising home foundations to reduce flooding and better securing roofs to reduce wind damage. But even these small modifications can make a big difference during a typhoon.

But home improvement was just one part of the transformation. For the first time, the women of Da Nang are assessing their own climate liabilities, pooling their resources in innovative ways, and taking steps to secure their own future in the face of climate change. 



This program is an outgrowth of the Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), which supports more than 30 cities across six countries – India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand – in developing resilience strategies to address current and future climate risks and impacts.

Results in Da Nang speak for themselves. On October 15, 2013, Typhoon Nari landed in Da Nang  at dawn, leaving many people injured, thousands of houses destroyed, roofs completely blown off, and tens of thousands of trees broken at their trunks or uprooted by severe winds.

The fate of the homes improved by the Women’s Union was starkly different. A post-storm damage assessment showed that all 244 households that had undergone the improvements were spared from damage. The lessons learned are already contributing to a greater understanding of climate change resilience, both in the region and around the world. For example, the Da Nang city government has directed its technical departments and communities to apply the same construction techniques to housing reconstruction citywide.


Climate Wise Women

For Constance Okollet, a peasant farmer in Eastern Uganda, climate change isn’t a theoretical concern or a political talking point: it’s a matter of having enough food to eat, enough water to access, and enough crop yields to sustain her livelihood and those of her neighbors in the community.

“We depend on agriculture to meet all our basic needs,” says Okollet, the Chairperson of the Osukuru United Women's Network in Eastern Uganda. “But climate change has stopped all that.”

Okollet is part of Climate Wise Women – a non-profit, global project of the Earth Island Institute to promote women's climate leadership through the power of storytelling. Along with her fellow members — including Ulamila Kurai Wragg of the Cook Islands, Thilmeeza Hussain of the Maldives, Ngozika Onuzu of Nigeria, and Sharon Hanshaw of Biloxi, Mississippi — Okollet petitions leaders of wealthy countries to reduce carbon emissions and assist developing nations in mitigating the devastating impact of climate change on livelihoods and economies.



In her words, “Our vulnerable communities need a voice, and I am the voice.” 

Through the Foundation's support, Climate Wise Women were able to attend such events in 2012 as the Fifty-Sixth Session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20.

At Rio+20, Climate Wise Women presented sessions on the power of personal narrative in sustainability and cross-generational dialogues, hosted an event on climate finance for grassroots women, and helped to develop a working group that continues to share knowledge and work together to advocate for funding mechanisms that can be easily delivered to women all over the world.

But most importantly, Climate Wise Women was able to inspire thousands of others attending these events with their stories of sacrifice, courage, and persistence – all of which contributes to a richer understanding of how climate change impacts women in varying and significant ways, and ensuring women have a voice in this global fight.


Connecting the Halls of Power with Rural Communities

Ten years. That’s how long it had been since a decision was passed urging gender diversity at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto protocol delegations. Yet in 2012, women made up less than 20 percent of the membership of the two bodies.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, was growing impatient when she arrived at the 2012 Climate Change Summit in Doha, Qatar, along with other members of Troika+ of Women Leaders on Gender and Climate Change.

A new measure was on the table that would put women back on the agenda and promote gender balance and gender-responsive climate policy. But then another set-back: a bureaucratic technicality blocked the measure’s passage. 



Troika+, a multi-sector coalition launched by the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation,  stepped up. With high profile members, including  Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, and Michelle Bachelet, then executive director of UN Women, Troika+ works to convene a two-way dialogue between high-powered global women leaders and organizations devoted to gender and climate change at the grassroots, local and regional levels, ensuring a more gender-responsive climate strategy.

Leaders continued to organize member nations, raising the issue to the highest level of the Summit. They had to show that there was broad-based support for the measure.

“Grenada came in,” President Robinson said in an interview with Ireland’s Village Magazine. “Bangladesh came in, Mexico came in, the United States came in, Japan came in – it was fantastic! And in the end the President of the Summit threw up his hands and said: ‘What can I do, a mere man!’”


The resolution was passed, putting gender on the agenda of future conferences, paving the way to create greater gender balance in the bodies of these influential delegations. Christiana Figueres called it the “Doha Miracle.”

Troika+ continues to listen to and advocate on behalf of women whose livelihoods are most impacted by the consequences of climate change. During the Commission on the Status of Women in 2012, Troika representatives attended a session to listen to the concerns of rural women from Sudan, Ghana, Nepal and Bangladesh who were struggling to access renewable energy options, from cookstoves to solar lights, for their homes and workplaces. The Troika+ women promised these concerns would be heard, ensuring women’s voices – both at the highest levels of development and in the communities hardest hit by climate – are reflected in future climate action.


Women for Results

Thousands of women in Australia, taking small steps to make big reductions in carbon emissions.

New stoves, dams, and even an entire new storm-resistant village in Bangladesh.

More than 150,000 new trees providing cleaner air and more shade in Guatemala.

Resilient Kenyan small businesses, owned and powered by women.

These are just some of the examples of the women who are making a difference across the globe, and whose accomplishments are being celebrated through “Momentum for Change: Women for Results,” an initiative celebrating the efforts to improve development outcomes for women globally, including  climate change adaption and mitigation.

In 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded a grant to the UN Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat to launch the program, which will inform governments, media, and the public about the role of women in solving climate change, and showcase innovative, effective and scalable models.



1 Million Women in Australia

1 Million Women, one of Australia’s largest women’s environmental organizations, has a single, audacious goal: to enlist a million women in a pledge to take small steps in their daily lives that save energy, reduce waste, and cut pollution. It’s on its way – so far 83,000 women have committed to cut more than 100,000 tons of carbon pollution. 



Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangladesh

Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangladesh empowers women to lead assessments of – and develop solutions for – local climate risks. This work has already led to the installation of improved cooking-stoves in 110 households, 10 new temporary dams to preserve fresh water for irrigation and reduce damaging levels of salinity in cropland, and a raised cluster village for landless families in flood-vulnerable areas.



Alliance for International Reforestation: Women Farmers in Guatemala

The Alliance for International Reforestation – AIR – offers training and tools to women farmers to address the pressing challenge of deforestation through sustainable farming. Since 1993, AIR has trained over 2,000 farmers, established hundreds of tree nurseries and planted over 3.7 million trees.