While most international and national development interventions aim to benefit local people, they remain overwhelmingly top-down and exclude the perspectives of poor women and men. When funders do devolve resources, power over the purse strings often remains with international or national actors. Rather than building capabilities and giving people the agency to adapt to climate change, conserve their ecosystems and develop sustainably, this business-as-usual approach often entrenches the systemic issues that make people vulnerable. International climate and development funders have the power to help local people deliver more effective solutions to climate change, the destruction of nature and poverty. But to do so, they must cede resources, rights and power to local actors, who are closer and more accountable to local people.