By Ginger Cassady

The future of our planet remains in our hands at the moment. But any solutions toward a sustainable future lie at the intersection of forests, climate and human rights.

For nearly 40 years, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has undertaken bold campaigns to hold some of the world’s biggest corporations accountable for business models that are linked to forest destruction, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and the marginalization of Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ rights and livelihoods.

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We now find ourselves in 2024 — six years until the indisputable, internationally agreed upon deadline to cut global emissions by half if we want to mitigate the most disastrous effects of climate change. In developing our ambitious five-year strategic plan over the past year, we have reflected on the impact of our four decades of challenging corporate power and systemic injustice while considering how our campaigns can evolve to meet the growing urgency of our times.  

RAN’s core mission, strategies and commitment to activism are unchanged, and more necessary than ever to respond to the scale of ecological and social crises being fueled by profit-driven interests. We remain resolute in our commitment to preserve forests, protect the climate, and uphold human rights. 

You can click this link to download and read through our entire strategic plan. And following are highlights of our big picture organizational strategy, major wins from the past five years, and specific ways that our campaigns will continue to have the biggest impact.

Impact and Progress

Over the past five years, we have achieved significant progress and wins across our campaigns.

  • The Leuser ecosystem in Indonesia — our primary focus of our forest program for the past five years — saw a reduction in overall deforestation in the region.

Photo: Paul Hilton for RAN

  • 2023 marked a record high in RAN’s 30 years of providing Community Action Grant (CAG) funding to Indigenous and frontline communities and grassroots initiatives fighting to keep forests standing, protect the climate, and uphold human rights. RAN distributed more than $800,000 through 86 grants in 17 countries across North and South America and Asia, including through our partnership with Global Greengrants Fund. Between 2017 and 2023, we distributed 388 grants totaling $3.2 million.

  • All 20 of the target brands of our Keep Forests Standing campaign adopted responsible palm oil and No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policies. 

  • All six of the top target banks in our climate campaign adopted oil exclusion and arctic exclusion policies.

Photo: Erik McGregor

  • RAN created a new online platform and report that tracks the financing of commodities that are driving deforestation— holding the financial sector accountable for their actions within a large Forest & Finance Coalition.

  • RAN launched our Insurance campaign in 2019 — within the Insure Our Future Coalition — addressing the hypocrisy of the sector, which is removing homeowner protections while continuing to insure risky fossil fuel expansion projects.

Photo: Erik McGregor

  • To date, 45 insurance companies have adopted restrictions on coal, and 13 have limited insurance for oil and gas. RAN was also the lead convenor of a coalition that successfully peeled key insurers away from the Trans Mountain Pipeline and earned commitments from twenty companies to not insure the project.

  • RAN continued to be a leader of the market campaign approach to environmental activism, producing research and reports such as our Banking on Climate Chaos report and our Keep Forests Standing scorecard that have become go-to resources for environmental organizations, media and activists around the world.

In short, the past five years have proven time and again that RAN is uniquely placed among movement allies to build and sustain bridges between forest, climate, and human rights issues. This intersectional work shows up in RAN’s organizing work and direct actions, our inside/outside corporate engagement strategy, and extensive research, communications, and digital activism. Combined, this work provides a crucial value addition to the broader movement as we navigate the next five years and move toward a Just Transition.

The Next Five Years

Over the next five years, while our mission and vision remain the same, our increased capacity from the significant growth we have experienced and the success of our previous campaigns are allowing us to expand our programs to meet the urgency of our times. Following are highlights of how RAN will continue to have the biggest impact over the next five years.

Keep Forests Standing
Over the next five years, RAN will protect tropical biodiversity from corporate expansion and support the rights of Indigenous and traditional peoples to control and manage their territories. This means we will focus on ending expansion in areas with significant Intact Forest Landscapes where Indigenous or traditional communities are opposing industrial logging and agribusiness development on their lands. This work will be guided by a few core principles — respecting human rights, supporting community forest management and remediation, promoting food sovereignty, and demanding corporate accountability.

Protecting Our Climate
Over the next five years, RAN will work to stop the expansion of fossil fuels, phase out all fossil fuels to limit warming to below 1.5C, and enable a Just Transition to people-centered energy systems that support the rights of Indigenous peoples and frontline communities. We will focus on corporate campaigns that pursue inside / outside strategies, partnerships with frontline communities, and in-depth research and policy analysis.

Partner Support and Community Action Grants
RAN will continue to leverage our resources and positional power to build a stronger movement by financially supporting grassroots groups and by seeking, respecting, and being accountable to leadership from grassroots, frontline, and Indigenous leaders. We will advance our goals through the Community Action Grants (CAG) program that provides direct grants to the frontlines.

People Power
At the center of our mission is a commitment to people power. We believe creativity, integrity, and people power drive the success in our campaigns and move us toward achieving our mission. And right now people are more motivated than ever to address the climate crisis. We will continue to build people power through building authentic partnerships with frontline and fenceline allies, building strong coalitions with other nonprofits working toward similar goals, providing direct support to community partners through our grantmaking program, sharing our research with the activist community, and providing leadership, organizing, logistic, and communication support to bold actions designed to hold corporations and banks accountable for their actions.

Racial Justice
RAN will continue to incorporate racial justice, human rights and equity into our programs, partnerships and operations as well as expand our analysis to incorporate international and intersectional frameworks. With our partners, we will bring culturally responsive and global racial justice analysis into our campaigns. We will also infuse principles of a Just Transition toward a people centered economy across our programs.

The victories we achieved over the past five years — from groundbreaking bank policies ruling out financing for new oil and gas, to data indicating a decrease in deforestation rates in Indonesia, to the first policy by a US insurer to respect Indigenous consent, and more — were the result of the tireless efforts from RAN, our partners, and YOU. And they are proof that our time-tested theory of change, and the power of our collective vision for a just and sustainable future, works.

In the next five years, with your support, we will leverage the growing momentum of last year’s achievements, and the global movement toward a just and sustainable future, to expand our campaigns and build on the work that you’ve made possible.
I cannot overstate the impact of your commitment to people and planet. We truly appreciate your investment in this work.