Bezos Earth Fund awards $443M in grants, focus is on climate justice, saving and restoring nature

Jeff Bezos, fourth from left, and Lauren Sánchez, next to him, attended the United Nation’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow in November and met with leaders from Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica and Bolivia. Also pictured is Bezos Earth Fund president and CEO Andrew Steer, third from right. (Photo via Instagram)

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced 44 grants totaling $443 million from the Bezos Earth Fund on Monday. The new pledges bring the total amount allocated to $1.39 billion since the initiative launched in February 2020. The former Amazon CEO has committed to granting $10 billion in a decade.

The recipients include programs with a focus on climate justice and benefiting underserved communities, nature conservation and restoration efforts, and tying the work in to climate goals.

Grant recipients include:

  • $130 million for 19 organizations supporting the U.S. Justice40 initiative, a program tied into federal investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transit in disadvantaged communities.
  • $261 million invested primarily in conservation efforts in the Congo Basin and Tropical Andes. The funding supports the international 30×30 initiative, which aims to to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030.
  • $51 million to support restoration of degraded environments in the U.S. and Africa, including urban forestry.

Bezos is the chair of the effort, and his girlfriend Lauren Sánchez is vice chair. Andrew Steer, the former head of the World Resources Institute, is the CEO and president of the fund. All three attended the United Nation’s COP26 climate talks that were recently held in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Disadvantaged communities have borne the brunt of environmental damage for too long and are key players in driving the necessary solutions,” Sánchez said in a statement announcing the grants. “With each grant we make, we are supporting leading institutions working with communities to advance climate justice efforts.”

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Bezos previously announced that he was earmarking $3 billion of his fund for nature-focused efforts, including conservation, restoration and food production. This latest announcement identifies specific recipients and dollar figures.

Bezos and others have acknowledged that urgent action is needed in this decade to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Outside of the fund, Bezos is also investing in technology that will help decarbonize power production, transportation and other industrial sectors. That includes participating in the $130 million venture capital round recently announced by Vancouver, B.C.’s General Fusion, a company developing fusion energy technology. Bezos is also an investor with the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is also backing climate tech companies.

Amazon, the business that Bezos founded, is likewise investing in climate tech and has taken on a leadership role in the climate space, pledging to become carbon neutral by 2040. The tech giant, however, is still seeing its carbon emissions increase.

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