Sustainability and Funding

Step 1: Setting Goals and Planning suggested that you think about the sustainability of your initiative during the planning process. This section will look at ways to make your initiative more sustainable over the long-term by planning ahead, engaging the community, and finding efficiencies

Why It’s Important

Monitoring climate indicators for a few years may provide a baseline or a snapshot in time. However, it might not be enough time or data to identify trends and make projections about the future and, in turn, make decisions about what the community can do to mitigate or adapt to those impacts.

Finding creative ways to sustain your climate monitoring initiative over the long-term is important because it can take many years, if not decades, to identify significant trends with respect to the changing climate. As such, it’s critical to design your monitoring initiative to be more resilient to challenges such as staff turnover and a reduction or loss of funding.

Key Questions and Considerations

Priorities and Concerns

Monitoring that responds to the community’s key concerns is more likely to get and keep the community’s interest. Involving a wide range of community members in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the initiative will help create a stronger foundation and ensure that the initiative remains relevant to the community over time.1

Champions and Capacity

Every successful project needs a community champion. It’s also good to build in some redundancy so that if the primary champion moves on to other employment or educational opportunities, there’s someone waiting in the wings who can step in and provide continuity.

Providing adequate compensation, job security, as well as training and other professional development opportunities are key to staff retention. In addition, building connections between the project team, Elders, and youth can strengthen interest in monitoring and help cultivate future community-based monitoring champions.2

Funding and Efficiencies

For many communities, securing adequate funding to sustain an initiative is an ongoing and time-consuming challenge. Sometimes communities need to put their initiative on hold temporarily while other times they must make the difficult decision to stop monitoring altogether. This can lead to data gaps and loss in capacity as trained staff move on to other opportunities. However, there are practical ways to mitigate interruptions in your monitoring project and make the best use of available resources such as:

  • Diversify your funding sources, e.g., community funding, industry (impact benefit agreements), foundations, government programs (grants and contributions), student employment programs, etc.
  • Partner with trusted external organizations than can provide equipment and expertise sometimes at low or no cost to you (if they have their own funding sources).
  • Identify “core” monitoring indicators versus “nice to haves”. Resist the urge to monitor everything.
  • Optimize the extent and frequency of monitoring i.e., how many data points or samples and over what time frame and area do you need in order to get meaningful results?
  • Use new technologies to automate certain types of monitoring e.g., install temperature loggers in a stream instead of taking manual measurements.
  • Rely on community volunteers in addition to paid staff where appropriate e.g., school programs can be a win-win, honoraria for land users typically cost less than seasonal, part-time, or full-time wages.
  • Piggyback on existing projects by adding a monitoring component e.g., harvester program, Guardians program, or culture camp.
  • Borrow, share, or rent expensive monitoring equipment instead of purchasing it.

Step 4: Approach and Methods provides more information on how to optimize your monitoring design. The Resources section below provides tools on developing a sustainable initiative, funding opportunities, and proposal writing.

Helpful Tip

Multiple Funding Sources

If like many communities you have multiple funding sources for your climate monitoring project, become familiar with their expenditure categories and financial reporting requirements. Then, track your expenses by funding source in the required format. By tracking your expenses separately, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy come reporting time.

Tool Spotlight

Guidance on Sustainability

Check out the Guidance on Supporting the Sustainability of Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring here.

  1. ^

    Supporting the Sustainability of Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring. February 2021. Prepared by ESSA for the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program, CIRNAC. Available at:

  2. ^

    Same as above.