Bezos Earth Fund pledges $1B to conserve land and sea in critical areas of the world

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos in June 2019. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

The Bezos Earth Fund pledged $1 billion to conserve and protect vulnerable areas of the world, focusing initially on the Congo Basin, the tropical Andes, and the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Bezos Earth Fund leaders announced the pledge Monday afternoon as part of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ prior commitment of $10 billion toward fighting climate change and preserving natural habitats around the world. Grants will preference groups that work closely with local communities and indigenous people, according to Bezos Earth Fund leaders.

“When people hanker for the good old days and glamorize the past, they’re almost always wrong. By most metrics, life is better than it was in the past. Global poverty rates are lower, infant mortality and life expectancies are better, and education rates are much higher,” Bezos said in a statement, echoing a sentiment often expressed by fellow Seattle-area philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates.

However, Bezos called the natural world “a notable exception,” saying it is “not better today than it was 500 years ago, when we enjoyed unspoiled forests, clean rivers, and the pristine air of the pre-industrial age.”

He added, “We can and must reverse this anomaly. By coming together with the right focus and ingenuity, we can have both the benefits of our modern lives and a thriving natural world. I hope this commitment inspires others to make their own pledges to protect and conserve nature and help in the fight against climate change. A job this big needs many allies.”

An announcement from the Bezos Earth Fund included statements of support from world leaders including United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Iván Duque Márquez, President of Colombia; John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

The funding for conservation is part of what the Bezos Earth Fund calls its three-part Nature strategy. Future parts will focus on landscape restoration and transformation of the food system.

A prior round of $791 million in funding went largely to well-funded, established environmental organizations, illustrating one challenge of the sheer scale of the Bezos Earth Fund: there are few organizations capable of managing and spending funds effectively at that level.

A second round of $203.7 million was announced earlier this month.

Bezos has pledged to fully allocate the $10 billion fund by 2030, the target date for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Updated with details of second funding round.