Why Investment in the Justice40 Initiative is a Win-Win for Communities and Climate


A group of sitting and kneeling youth watch as a dance is performed by the village’s traditional dance group on the beach at Igiugig in Alaska’s Iliamna Region.
Igiugig, a remote village in the Iliamna Region of Alaska, is home to a range of investments in climate justice, sustainability and cultural revitalization. This photo was taken at a dance performed on the beach by the village’s traditional dance group. (Photo credit: Nathaniel Wilder)

On January 27, 2021, during his first week in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 14008, a historical landmark which placed the climate crisis at the forefront of national and foreign policy planning. It is the first time a comprehensive climate agenda was set that included equity and justice as a fundamental pillar in addressing the climate crisis. In doing so, President Biden enacted the Justice40 Initiative, a groundbreaking, whole-of-government effort intended to ensure climate action supports all communities toward a sustainable and thriving future. 

Directing at least 40% of benefits from federal climate and infrastructure investments to Justice40 communities, the Executive Order established unprecedented access to federal funding for climate, economic, and infrastructure solutions to those communities with the highest need for investments.

Justice40 represents a monumental shift in federal governance in ensuring that climate actions do not harm U.S. communities that have historically borne the brunt of climate change and fossil fuel impacts. Designed to transform economically vulnerable communities while addressing the need for climate resilience, it prioritizes environmental and climate justice as a core focus area of federal programming. 

The initiative covers more than 450 federal programs spanning across seven investment areas, including workforce training and sustainable housing, making it possible for state and local governments and community organizations to apply for landmark funding to deliver climate solutions in a number of areas— from energy, transit, and housing to safe drinking water, wastewater infrastructure, and legacy pollution cleanup.

Three years since the inception of the Justice40 Initiative, the Bezos Earth Fund continues to celebrate this historic effort. Through the Earth Fund's Environmental Justice program, we have invested in the success of Justice40 by committing over $350 million in environmental justice so far. 

To achieve the vision of Justice40 in securing an equitable and sustainable future, the Earth Fund is investing in grantee partners centering frontline communities in their work. We're humbled to support environmental justice organizations that are proving climate action leads to reducing climate pollution while at the same time supporting economic development, a healthier population, and increased climate resilience.

The bulk of this work builds capacity for under-resourced organizations to more successfully tap into Justice40 benefits. By providing philanthropic and government resources directly to communities, local community members can develop solutions addressing environmental and public health issues on their own terms.

Our grantee partners have been preparing local communities to benefit from Justice40 and beyond. They are supporting Alaska Native Communities, climate-smart and accessible food systems in tribal communities, tribal energy systems, frontline communities in the Southeast and Northeast to ensure access to clean transit and equitable energy infrastructure, access to green space and urban agriculture in the Southwest and Midwest – in short, building environmental justice communities across the country from Alaska to Louisiana and from the east to west coasts. With funding from the Bezos Earth Fund, community-led climate projects have secured $43 million in federal and state funding since 2021.

Our vision for continued investment in the Justice40 Initiative’s success is to support more communities across the U.S. in implementing community-led solutions to address the climate crisis.

Three years after its launch, the Justice40 Initiative now covers 518 programs across 16 federal agencies. In order to keep climate justice alive, the Earth Fund is committed to continue supporting community groups in their efforts to build equitable and sustainable communities. While still a work-in-progress, Justice40 is a critical foundation for achieving a just and equitable climate future.

This is why 40% is only the beginning — continued investment in economic, climate, and environmental justice is critical to boosting economic development, improving health conditions, and strengthening climate resilience in all communities in the U.S.

As the world experiences a changing climate, we must continue to advocate for access to federal funding initiatives like Justice40 and urge government at all levels to enact more initiatives like it. More critical than ever in this country, efforts like Justice40 prove the implementation of climate solutions can achieve economic and social justice while preparing communities for the climate change impacts that lie ahead.

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