Jeff Bezos may have the ability to leave Earth whenever he wants, but for the rest of us not worth billions, we should focus on fixing the planet we live on. At least that’s the idea behind the Amazon founder’s climate fund side hustle.
Bezos made a mammoth $US10 billion ($AU13.7 billion) commitment to fixing Earth in February last year through the Bezos Earth Fund. On Tuesday, the Bezos Earth Fund announced $US1 billion ($AU1.37 billion) of the overall climate kitty will be focused on the Congo Basin, the tropical Andes and the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The fund has pledged to fight climate change and protect and restore nature, while also advancing environmental justice and economic opportunity.
This commitment to conservation will focus on areas that are important for biodiversity and carbon stocks, with the fund saying it will give emphasis to the central role of local communities and Indigenous peoples in conservation efforts.
The Bezos Earth Fund will begin handing out the grants this year, prioritising regions and countries where there is significant need and opportunity. The existence of a strong political commitment to nature, and places where local communities and Indigenous Peoples are at the heart of conservation programs, will also play a big part in determining who receives funding.
The billion-dollar pledge will play a key role in the implementation of the 30×30 commitment, which is a goal to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030 to prevent mass extinctions and bolster resilience to climate change.
The 30×30 commitment has support from leaders of more than 70 countries around the world.
The commitment announced today represents the first of a three-part nature strategy the Bezos Earth Fund will support. The focus is on conservation. Future commitments will be for landscape restoration and food system transformation.
According to the world’s richest man – currently worth an estimated $US177 billion ($AU243 billion) – life now is good. But it can be better.
“When people hanker for the good old days and glamorise the past, they’re almost always wrong. By most metrics, life is better than it was in the past,” Bezos claims.
“Global poverty rates are lower, infant mortality and life expectancies are better, and education rates are much higher.
“But there is a notable exception – the natural world 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.”
The billionaire said we must reverse this anomaly by coming together with the right focus and ingenuity to “have both the benefits of our modern lives and a thriving natural world”.
Bezos is hopeful his commitment inspires others to make their own pledges to help in the fight against climate change.
“A job this big needs many allies,” he said.