November 7, 2022

Bezos Earth Fund Commits $50 Million to African Restoration

(Photo credit: AFR100 / World Resources Institute)

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt – The Bezos Earth Fund today announced $50 million to help accelerate Africa’s locally led restoration movement as part of the $1 billion commitment to restoration made last year at COP26 in Glasgow.
 
On the first day of COP27, Bezos Earth Fund President and CEO Andrew Steer made the announcement during remarks at the World Leaders Summit.
 
Steer said, “Local groups are central to achieving Africa's restoration goals. We know that there are thousands of shovel-ready restoration projects across the continent, but insufficient training and funding to help these projects grow. Through its support of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), the Bezos Earth Fund is working to remove three critical barriers to locally led restoration. First, we must build capacity – drawing on the expertise that exists within African institutions and beyond – to help restoration projects scale. Second, we must ensure that finance is intermediated more effectively to reach frontline groups. Finally, we must ensure that best-in-class monitoring systems are used to track progress on the ground.”
 
Funding will help restore two African landscapes: one in the Rusizi Basin, part of the larger Congo Basin ecosystem, and the second in the Great Rift Valley, home to Kenya's most iconic forests and a breadbasket for the region. Funding will support restoration by entrepreneurs, community leaders, and smallholder farmers and training for these groups to grow their operations. It also includes robust monitoring and verification systems. Data from the Land and Carbon Lab will underpin monitoring efforts, providing real-time information on land use changes and associated carbon fluxes.
 
The funding will add to the Earth Fund's prior grant to the AFR100 to accelerate restoration across the continent. This funding was invested in a “Top 100” best-in-class African restoration projects and small businesses. These locally-led efforts are restoring 20,000 hectares, creating 25,000 full and part-time jobs, and adopting geo-referenced project monitoring tools. Together these projects and businesses act as models that can be scaled up across millions of hectares.
 
At COP26, Earth Fund Founder and Chair Jeff Bezos announced a $3 billion commitment to nature to conserve the nature we have left ($1 billion), restore what we have lost ($1 billion), and transform food systems to grow what we need to live without destroying the planet for future generations ($1 billion).
 
“Since COP26 the Earth Fund has invested $300 million for conservation in the Congo Basin, Tropical Andes, and Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, as well as $50 million to scale up restoration globally. The Bezos Earth Fund is delighted to announce today another $50 million to accelerate restoration in Africa, the continent where both the need and opportunity for restoration are the greatest,” said Steer.
 
“Africa’s restoration movement is taking off,” said Wanjira Mathai, an advisor to the Bezos Earth Fund. “Thousands of restoration SMEs and community groups are transforming landscapes and livelihoods across the continent. The time to invest in Africa’s restoration generation is now!”
 
Sixty-five percent of arable land in Sub-Saharan Africa is too damaged to produce food, even as 70% of its people rely on it for their livelihoods. More than 750 million hectares of land could be restored across the continent. The African Union has set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 through the AFR100 and Great Green Wall initiatives. Restoration at this scale would sequester 3.0 GtCO2e – equivalent to taking 650 million cars off the road for one year – and improve food and water security, livelihoods, and climate resilience of an estimated 235 million African people.