Impact Series

$10B Bezos Earth Fund earmarks $2B for land restoration and meals manufacturing efforts

Jeff Bezos in New York City on Sept. 20, announcing $1 billion in grants from the Bezos Earth Fund. (Bezos Earth Fund Photo)

As the United Nation’s COP26 climate talks in Glasgow kicked off this week, the Bezos Earth Fund on Monday announced its plans for $2 billion of the $10 billion fund: programs supporting land restoration and food production.

Grants from the fund, which will be disbursed by 2030, will target efforts across the globe.

The $1 billion allocated for land restoration has two initial focuses:

  • Projects in Africa to plant trees and revitalize grasslands. The fund will partner with Africa-owned organizations, including AFR100, a pan-African restoration effort.
  • Initiatives across 20 landscapes in the U.S. that are key to storing carbon and boosting biodiversity. Some 40% of the grants will target underserved communities.

The second $1 billion will go toward increasing food production while safeguarding the environment. The fund provided even fewer details on these efforts, saying they will target higher crop yields, reducing food waste and emphasizing plant-based diets.

“We must conserve what we have, restore what we’ve lost, and grow what we need in harmony with nature,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “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.”

In late September, Bezos announced his plans for a third $1 billion of his fund — to conserve and protect vulnerable areas of the world, focusing initially on the Congo Basin, the tropical Andes, and the tropical Pacific Ocean. The three, $1-billion measures taken together comprise the fund’s “nature strategy.”

In addition to nature and environmental justice, the Earth Fund website lists three other program areas: decarbonization of the economy; economics, finance and markets; and monitoring and accountability.

Since the Bezos Earth Fund’s launch in February 2020, the program has made multiple announcements of grant recipients:

  • A prior round of $791 million in funding announced in November of last year that went primarily to well-funded, established environmental organizations.
  • The announcement of $203.7 million in grants and pledges aimed at advancing climate justice, supporting climate-oriented economic recovery projects and spurring innovation in pathways to decarbonization.

Bezos recently met with the Prince of Wales to discuss climate efforts and this latest pledge garnered praise from revered conservationist and scientist Jane Goodall.

“To conserve our natural world is to conserve our human species,” said Goodall, in a statement released Monday.  “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.”

The fund has hired some notable folks from environmental nonprofits to build its leadership team. That includes Andrew Steer, former head of the World Resources Institute, as its first CEO and president, and Charlotte Pera, who has been the president and CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation.

The Seattle-based cloud and online retail company that Bezos founded has been making its own headlines on the climate front.

Last week, Amazon announced investments from its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund. While Bezos’ philanthropic fund has so far been directed toward nonprofit conservation and restoration efforts, Amazon has been investing in startups and businesses that are developing technologies for decarbonizing industry. That includes companies developing technologies to recharge EVs, producing low-carbon fuels for planes and ships, and manufacturing smaller boxes for shipping goods.

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