Dec 6, 2021

Bezos Earth Fund Announces $443 Million in Grants to Advance Environmental Justice, Conserve and Restore Nature, and Improve Monitoring and Accountability

The Bezos Earth Fund announced it awarded 44 grants totaling $443 million to organizations focused on climate justice, nature conservation and restoration, and tracking critical climate goals. The grants include $130 million to advance the Justice40 initiative in the U.S.; $261 million to further the 30x30 initiative to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, with a focus on the Congo Basin and Tropical Andes; and $51 million to support land restoration in the U.S. and Africa. These grants are part of the Bezos Earth Fund’s $10 billion commitment to fight climate change, protect and restore nature, and advance environmental justice and economic opportunity.

“The goal of the Bezos Earth Fund is to support change agents who are seizing the challenges that this decisive decade presents,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “Through these grants, we are advancing climate justice and the protection of nature, two areas that demand stronger action.”

Advancing Climate Equity through Justice40

Grants include $130 million to 19 organizations doing critical climate justice work in support of the Justice40 initiative—a whole-of-government effort in the U.S. to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. The Justice40 initiative will invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable housing, workforce development, and other areas in support of underserved communities.

Bezos Earth Fund grantees will focus their efforts on empowering community groups; providing relevant tools, data, and skills to access government funds for local priorities; and pursuing decarbonization projects in underserved communities. These organizations will work across the entire gradient, from the federal government to local communities, to help bring Justice40 to life, ensure a just transition, and build a lasting force for climate and environmental justice.

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

Justice40 grants from the Bezos Earth Fund will address four key imperatives:

  1. Supporting information and data for decision-making. Five grants totaling $14 million were made to advance a data collaborative for Justice40, ensuring that the initiative is supported and held accountable by high-quality information and analysis. The collaborative will fill gaps in the data needed to identify underserved communities, help community-based organizations select key areas for government investment (including creating a database of aging buildings that need energy efficiency upgrades), and develop tools that local city and state governments can use to track the impact of public investments over time.
  2. Helping underserved communities transform into environmentally safe, climate-resilient geographies with economic opportunities. Grants totaling $47 million have been made to five NGOs selected based their expertise and networks that can be leveraged to access public dollars, drive Justice40 funding, and amplify community-focused action.
  3. Supporting Native communities and Tribal Justice40 efforts. Five grants totaling $38 million were made to help Native American communities access Justice40 funding for clean energy and climate-resilient development. For example, grantees will expand solar energy in underserved Native American communities through community outreach, technical assistance, and workforce development.

    “Support from the Bezos Earth Fund allows us to help Indigenous communities across the United States secure funding for projects that advance climate and environmental justice, benefit their communities, and offer models of success,” said Tanksi Clairmont from GRID Alternatives - Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund. “In so doing, we are also cultivating the next generation of tribal leaders committed to climate and nature solutions. We are grateful for the opportunity to advance energy sovereignty and climate resilience in tribal communities.
  4. Creating training and resource sharing to build coordinated Justice40 implementation. Justice40 will only succeed with increased awareness, engagement, and best practice sharing between communities. The Bezos Earth Fund provided four organizations with a total of $31 million in grants to identify best practices, provide training and resources to equip communities, and foster the multiplication of success.

Protecting Our Planet through 30x30

At the UN General Assembly, the Bezos Earth Fund announced a $1 billion pledge to support the protection of 30% of the planet’s land and sea by 2030 (30x30). The Bezos Earth Fund’s efforts will focus on regions that are important for biodiversity, hold large carbon stocks, and where governments have demonstrated commitment.

Grants in support of 30x30 will drive the creation, expansion, management, and monitoring of protected and conserved areas, as well as advance the land tenure rights of Indigenous peoples and the role of local communities and organizations in conservation. Grants announced today focus largely on the Congo Basin and the tropical Andes and will go to building a coalition of partners to help countries, local communities, and conservation groups advance 30x30. Areas of focus include:

The Congo Basin. The Congo Basin is home to 70% of Africa’s forests and is one of the most important places for biodiversity and carbon stocks on the planet—yet only 17% of the area is protected today. Each year, large areas are lost to deforestation, while remaining forests are degraded by logging, mining, agriculture, the building of new roads, fuelwood collection, hunting, and other pressures. Eight grants totaling $105.05 million were made to create more than 11 million hectares of new protected areas, including the rights to 5 million hectares of land for local communities. The organizations will also work to strengthen the management of more than 60 million hectares of protected and conserved areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo.

The Tropical Andes. Home to more than 12% of all species and a diversity of Indigenous cultures, the Tropical Andes is one of the most diverse regions on the planet. It stores some 200 gigatons of carbon in its forests and other ecosystems, and it includes the headwaters of the Amazon River. To advance conservation in the Tropical Andes, 11 grants were made totaling $151.05 million for the creation of more than 48 million hectares of newly protected areas. This will secure the rights to 19 million hectares of lands for local communities and strengthen the management of more than 108 million hectares of protected areas in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

A $5 million grant will also support the planning of the world’s largest transnational marine-protected area in the Galapagos and Eastern Pacific. This initiative was announced at COP26 by the heads of state of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica.

"The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC) thanks the Bezos Earth Fund for daring to support land tenure rights and management, as a clear understanding that Indigenous peoples are strategic partners to protect at least 30% of the planet for people, biodiversity, and to tackle the climate crisis,” said Tuntiak Katan, General Coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities. “We invite the Bezos Earth Fund and other partners to continue working together long-term.”

Advancing land tenure rights for Indigenous peoples. The Bezos Earth Fund recognizes the crucial role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation, and the importance of advancing land tenure rights for the protection of forests that are critical for nature and climate. At COP26, the Bezos Earth Fund joined the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) Pledge that has been made by public and private donors. Grants totaling $25 million announced today will support the creation of an innovative global mechanism proposed by the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities to provide direct support for IPLC groups, working with the Rights and Resources Group and the Campaign for Nature.

Restoring Lost Ground

In support of the Bezos Earth Fund’s $1 billion commitment to restoration made at COP26, three organizations were granted a total of $51 million to restore degraded landscapes—a critical way to reverse biodiversity loss, enhance water access and quality, build ecosystem resilience, create new jobs, and revive rural communities.

Grantees will advance restoration efforts in communities across the U.S. and in Africa. In the U.S., grantees’ efforts will include the implementation of urban forestry and the ramp-up of restoration across 20 sites. In Africa, funds will support nonprofits and small to medium-sized enterprises that are restoring land, with a goal to significantly scale up African restoration in time for COP27 in late 2022.

"Deforestation exposes people in Africa and around the world to increased risk of flooding, landslides, water shortages, extreme heat, and coastal erosion. The city of Freetown, through our #FreetownTheTreeTown campaign, is planting and growing 1 million trees to address these challenges whilst creating green jobs, enhancing local air quality, and growing the global carbon sink," said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone. "I applaud the Bezos Earth Fund for this huge stride in closing the restoration finance gap, particularly for Global South cities like mine.”

Investing in Monitoring and Accountability

Two grants totaling $1.5 million will support tracking critical transformations required to meet climate and nature goals. Grantees will support the tracking of sectoral transitions related to energy, buildings, industry, and transport,  and transformations related to protecting biodiversity.

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About The Bezos Earth Fund

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.

Complete list of grants announced today:

Advancing Climate Equity through Justice40

Supporting information and data for decision-making ($14 million): BlocPower ($5.5 million), Sand County Foundation’s Environmental Policy Innovation Center ($1 million), Massive Data Institute at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy ($3.2 million), Earth Genome who plans to work with shift7 and Earthrise Media ($3.5 million), University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health group ($800,000).

Helping underserved communities transform into environmentally safe, climate-resilient geographies with economic opportunities ($47 million): Asian Pacific Environmental Network ($5 million), Emerald Cities Collaborative ($12 million), The Greenlining Institute ($10 million), Windward Fund’s Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice program ($10 million), Seed Commons ($10 million).

Supporting Native communities and Tribal Justice40 efforts ($38 million): New Venture Fund’s Alaska Venture Fund program ($10 million), First Nations Development Institute ($5 million), GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund ($12 million), Native Movement ($3 million), NDN Collective ($8 million).

Creating training and resource sharing to build coordinated Justice40 implementation ($31 million): Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs’ Building Equity and Alignment for Environmental Justice program ($15 million), March On Foundation’s Future Coalition program ($3 million), PolicyLink who plans to work with Gulf South for a Green New Deal ($8 million), Western Organization of Resource Councils Education Project who plans to work with Rural Power Coalition ($5 million).

Protecting Our Planet through 30x30

The Congo Basin ($105.05 million): Nature Conservancy who plans to work with Enduring Earth ($30 million), Fauna & Flora International USA ($5 million), ClimateWorks Foundation who plans to work with The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility ($10 million), Friends of BirdLife International who plans to work with Key Biodiversity Area Partnership ($2.5 million), Rainforest Trust ($5 million), Rights and Resources Institute, working in partnership with the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and the Campaign for Nature ($10 million), United Nations Foundation who plans to work with the UN Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre ($2.55 million), Wildlife Conservation Society ($40 million).

The Tropical Andes ($151.05 million): Friends of BirdLife International who plans to work with Conserva Aves Partners: Birdlife, Audubon and American Bird Conservancy ($12 million), Conservation International ($20 million), World Wildlife Fund who plans to work with Enduring Earth ($4 million), ClimateWorks Foundation who plans to work with International Land and Forest Tenure Facility ($20 million), Friends of BirdLife International who plans to work with Key Biodiversity Area Partnership ($2.5 million), Nia Tero ($15 million), Rainforest Trust ($15 million), Re:wild ($25 million), Rights and Resources Institute, working in partnership with the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and the Campaign for Nature ($15 million), United Nations Foundation who plans to work with the UN Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre ($2.55 million), Wildlife Conservation Society ($20 million).

Galapagos and Eastern Pacific ($5 million):

Re:wild ($5 million).

Restoring Lost Ground

Groundwork USA ($6 million), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation ($30 million), One Tree Planted ($15 million).

Investing in Monitoring and Accountability

ClimateWorks Foundation who plans to work with Climate Action Tracker ($1.2 million), United Nations Foundation who plans to work with the UN Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre ($320,000).