Jeff Bezos Pledges $1 Billion to Conservation: 'Nature Is Our Life Support System and It's Fragile'

“I hope this commitment inspires others to make their own pledges to protect and conserve nature and help in the fight against climate change,” Jeff Bezos said in a statement

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos has pledged $1 billion towards conservation projects with an emphasis on the Congo Basin, tropical Andes, and the tropical Pacific Ocean.

The 57-year-old former Amazon CEO announced his plan on Monday to give $1 billion in donations beginning now through the year 2030 as a part of his $10 billion plan to tackle climate change.

Bezos — who has a net worth of $195.4 billion, making him the richest man on the planet — revealed his organization Bezos Earth Fund has joined the international 30x30 Initiative to "protect and conserve 30 percent of land and sea by 2030."

"Nature is our life support system and it's fragile. I was reminded of this just this July when I went into space with Blue Origin. I'd heard that seeing the Earth from space changes one's point of view of the world. But I was not prepared for just how much that would be true," the entrepreneur said during a press conference, referring to being on the Blue Origin ship's first space flight with humans on board on July 20.

He continued, "Living down here, the world and the atmosphere seem vast and they seem stable. But looking back at Earth from there, the atmosphere seems thin and the world finite. Both beautiful, both fragile."

The $1 billion in grants will be given to conservation projects in the aforementioned locations to help with local communities and Indigenous populations, according to a press release.

"When people hanker for the good old days and glamorize the past, they're almost always wrong. By most metrics, life is better than it was in the past. Global poverty rates are lower, infant mortality and life expectancies are better, and education rates are much higher," Bezos began in a statement. "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."

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

He continued, "We can and must reverse this anomaly. By coming together with the right focus and ingenuity, we can have both the benefits of our modern lives and a thriving natural world."

"I hope this commitment inspires others to make their own pledges to protect and conserve nature and help in the fight against climate change," Bezos said. "A job this big needs many allies."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Bezos' pledge "a hugely welcome announcement" in a statement.

"If we are to tackle the climate crisis and preserve the precious biodiversity that has sustained life on this planet for millions of years, we need everyone – governments, businesses, individuals to do everything they can," Johnson, 57, said in a release. "I look forward to working more with the Bezos Earth Fund in our shared fight for the planet in the run up to COP26."

Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez added, "Protecting 30% of our planet must be a priority for all nations. Colombia has endorsed this as a member of the High Ambition for Nature and People, and we are doing our part through the Herencia Colombia initiative. We warmly welcome this announcement from the Bezos Earth Fund, and invite other donors to support protected and conserved areas, as a solution for nature, climate and people."

John Kerry, United States special presidential envoy for climate, said Bezos' commitment "comes at a pivotal moment as we seek to avoid the loss of irreplaceable biodiversity and further destabilization of the climate."

"Last year, global loss of primary forest equaled twice the emissions of all cars on the road in the US. To turn the tide on the climate crisis, we must stop destroying forests and other fragile ecosystems, and conserve and restore the world's carbon sinks," Kerry, 77, added.

Bezos Earth Fund said this $1 billion pledge is part of a three-part strategy to tackle climate change. Future donations will focus on landscape restoration and food system transformation.

Earlier this month, the company also revealed they provided $150 million in grants this year to nonprofits focused on climate justice, decarbonization, and clean initiatives among large corporations.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos. MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

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"This funding is just the next step in the Bezos Earth Fund's commitment to creating catalytic change during this decisive decade," Andrew Steer, president of the Bezos Earth Fund, said in a statement. "With each grant, we are helping organizations unblock progress and create pathways to a more sustainable future."

Bezos' commitments to climate change come amid Amazon's annual sustainability report that revealed the company's carbon emissions increased 19 percent in 2020. They also reported that their carbon intensity dropped 16 percent last year.

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