Bezos Fund awards $ 443 million for environmental justice and climate

The Bezos Earth Fund said today it has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations working on environmental justice, land conservation and climate change – grants that could mark a shift in philanthropic dollars for efforts to based.

The $ 443 million will be distributed to 44 organizations. The money is part of Inc. founder Jeff Bezos’ Instagram pledge for 2020 to devote $ 10 billion of his own wealth to tackling climate change and other environmental risks (Climate wire, September 21).

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

A press release from the Bezos Earth Fund said the 44 grants focus on two of President Biden’s environmental pillars: Justice40 and the “30 by 30” initiative.

Justice40 is committed to devoting 40% of climate-related investments to historically marginalized communities. And the “30 out of 30” goal would protect 30% of land and water by 2030. More specifically, $ 130 million of Bezos dollars went to 19 organizations involved in work in support of Justice40.

Lauren Sánchez, vice president of the Bezos Earth Fund, said overburdened communities are “key players in finding the necessary solutions.” “With every grant we make, we support leading institutions working with communities to advance climate justice efforts,” she said in a statement.

Of the $ 130 million, $ 14 million was spent on “data collaboration” efforts for Justice40 to ensure that the Biden plan is “accountable for high-quality information and analysis”.

“The collaboration will fill data gaps needed to identify underserved communities, help community organizations select key areas for government investment (including creating a database of aging buildings in need of ‘energy improvements) and develop tools that local and state governments can use to track the impact of public investments over time, ”the fund said in a press release.

Currently, the United States Digital Service, housed in the President’s Executive Office, is working on a filter tool to help distribute environmental justice money. The White House announced last week that a beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Scout Tool will be released before the end of the year (Green wire, December 2).

It’s not entirely clear how White House officials are working with the Bezos fund, and the Council on Environmental Quality did not return a request for comment on time.

Two weeks ago, the Bezos Earth Fund sent out invitations to an “exclusive” roundtable on December 14-15 to “help plan a major environmental justice project in the United States,” according to an email obtained. by E&E News.

The fund is partnering with the Kapor Center, Center for Open Data Enterprise and others to develop a plan to create collaboration for environmental justice.

Some advocates in the EJ community have expressed concern that the Bezos fund is trying to control data and information. Neither the contact name on the invitation nor the Bezos Earth Fund resent the emails before the deadline.

The fund also announced $ 38 million to help Native American communities access Justice40 funding for clean energy and climate resilient development.

The press release stated that $ 261 million would be allocated to “30 out of 30” global protection. The efforts “will focus on regions that are important for biodiversity, hold significant carbon stocks and where governments have shown commitment,” the statement said, focusing primarily on the Congo Basin – home to 70 percent of Africa’s forests – and the tropical Andes.

Grants in the amount of $ 25 million will support an “innovative global mechanism proposed by the Global Alliance of Local Governments to provide direct support to [Indigenous peoples and local communities] groups.”

And a $ 5 million grant will also support planning for a transnational marine protected area in the Galapagos and the eastern Pacific.

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