Melanesia has some of the highest rates of linguistic and biological diversity in the world and is renowned for a vibrancy of cultural expression. The...

Melanesia has some of the highest rates of linguistic and biological diversity in the world and is renowned for a vibrancy of cultural expression. The Indigenous and local communities who live across the region have developed distinct agricultural, fishing, hunting and gathering economies, with important systems of trade governed by an elaborate matrix of taboo and traditional governance institutions. In the face of growing extractive industries, land conversion and a steady devaluation of traditional practices, our Melanesia Program works to fortify and reassert local, culturally-based economies within these rich ecosystems and islands. We focus our grantmaking on these landscapes and seascapes:

  • Vanuatu
  • Bismark Archipelago to the Bismark Range: From the islands and ocean to the mountains on the north coast of Papua New Guinea
  • Bougainville

We also support regional and international convening and networking for Melanesian stewards and community and civil society organizations.

In response to global pressures driving Melanesian communities into the ‘cash economy’, there are grassroots movements in the other direction, asserting the value and power of indigenous land-based sovereignty, culture and biodiverse landscapes as the basis for societies free of absolute poverty and thus a solid foundation for national development. These movements, and the practical ideas they proffer, are where we direct our support. The Melanesia Program focusses on two interrelated grantmaking themes:

  • Customary Land Tenure, Food Sovereignty and the Traditional Economy
  • Cultural Renewal

Within these two themes we find a range of opportunities to support the efforts of communities, including:

  • Increasing understanding about alternative development paths for Melanesia, in particular the merits and practical applicability of approaches rooted in Melanesian land-based values and biocultural diversity;
  • The development and use of culturally-grounded and environmentally-informed curricula in schools and community education programs;
  • Support for the strengthening and diversification of civil society organizations, including those addressing the range of current threats to biocultural diversity in the region; and
  • The development of networks of people and organizations engaged in biocultural education, expression and revitalization

July 2017 Update:

After almost 10 years of programming in the region, the Christensen Fund is reviewing the Melanesia Program to determine the next iteration of supporting, strengthening and amplifying local and vibrant biocultural movements. During this review period we will not have an open call for new pre-proposals for 2018. Existing  grants and grants already under review will not be impacted during this period.

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Brian Burgin

Brian Burgin

Grants Manager