On November 1, 2021, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was digging around under his couch cushions, and found $2 billion in loose change. As a result, the Bezos Earth Fund has now pledged $2 billion to help restore nature and transform food systems as part of its $10 billion commitment to fight climate change, regenerate ecosystems, and advance both environmental justice and economic revitalization.
“Africa is home to the world’s greatest restoration opportunity, with more than 700 million hectares of degraded land that can be restored,” said Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, African Union Development Agency-NEPAD. “Africa is the continent most dependent on the land for livelihoods and most vulnerable to climate change. Africa must therefore lead the way. We warmly welcome partnership with ambitious funders like the Bezos Earth Fund.”
This commitment adds to a $1 billion pledge for nature announced at Climate Week NYC in September to help create, expand, manage, and monitor protected and conserved areas. Together, this $3 billion allocated to nature will drive a new, three-fold agenda focused on landscape restoration, nature conservation and food-systems transformation (such as regenerative agriculture).
“Our commitment today supports a three-fold imperative – we must conserve what we have, restore what we’ve lost, and grow what we need in harmony with nature,” said Bezos. “Investing in nature through both traditional and innovative approaches is essential to combat climate change, enhance biodiversity, protect the beauty of the natural world, and create a prosperous future.”
One billion dollars in funding will support landscape restoration, with an initial focus on Africa and the U.S. Restoration efforts in Africa will include planting trees on degraded landscapes, revitalizing grasslands, and integrating trees into farmland.
This work will help drive critical outcomes that include climate benefits, food security, job creation, economic growth, soil fertility, and improved connectivity between protected areas to protect biodiversity. The Bezos Earth Fund will partner with Africa-owned partners, including AFR100, to deliver these benefits at scale.
In the U.S., funding will be dedicated to the restoration of more than 20 landscapes that sequester high levels of carbon, protect biodiversity, and deliver community benefits. Forty percent of the funds allocated to U.S. nature efforts will directly engage or benefit underserved communities.
Food Systems Transformation
The other $1 billion will help transform food and agricultural systems to support life without degrading the planet. The Bezos Earth Fund will allocate funds to support a range of urgent imperatives, including raising crop yields while shrinking the agricultural footprint, sharply reducing food loss and waste, shifting diets towards plant-based sources, and making agricultural supply chains more sustainable.
“To conserve our natural world is to conserve our human species,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, ethologist, conservationist, and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace. “We depend on nature for every breath we take and morsel we eat. We alone can determine its future – an awesome responsibility. This is a hugely welcome announcement and much needed as time is slipping away.”
In line with the Bezos Earth Fund’s $10 billion commitment timeline, the funds announced today will be disbursed by 2030. In distributing grants, the Earth Fund will focus on regions and countries where needs and opportunities are greatest, and where commitments to conserving and restoring nature— while prioritizing local communities—are strongest.
“This commitment recognizes the urgency of the situation before us,” said Christiana Figueres, former U.N. climate chief and founding partner of Global Optimism. “For too long we have ignored the solutions that nature provides for us. Protection and restoration of our Earth is key to protecting and restoring our future. Key to our success will be reforming the way in which we produce and consume food, which is driving global warming, species loss, and inequality, rather than nourishing ourselves and our planet.”
The Earth Fund conservation grant distributions are focusing on the Congo Basin, the tropical Andes, and the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The Bezos Earth Fund is Jeff Bezos’s $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and other actors that will drive climate and nature solutions. By allocating funds creatively, wisely, and boldly, the Bezos Earth Fund has the potential for transformative influence in this decisive decade. Funds will be fully allocated by 2030—the date by which the United Nations‘ Sustainable Development Goals must be achieved.