Portland, OR. In February of 2020 Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced a $10 billion commitment to funding scientists, nonprofits, and “others” that have made it their life’s work to fight climate change. Bezos discussed his plans with world leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron, as seen above. However, little was known about how the fund would work. Now environmental and philanthropy experts say they hope the Bezos Earth Fund’s announcement that it has hired an established nonprofit leader will bring a more coherent strategy and greater transparency to a little-understood philanthropic organization. The nonprofit has the stated goal of spending $10 billion by the end of the decade. Andrew Steer, who leads the environmental think tank World Resources Institute, has been tapped to be the first president of Jeff Bezos’s $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund.
Bezos had little to say publicly about the hiring of Steer. In an Instagram post, Bezos praised Steer’s “decades of experience in environmental and climate science as well as economic and social policy in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Africa.”
Steer on Twitter said Bezos intends to spend all of the $10 billion fund by the end of the decade on “scientists, [nongovernmental organizations], activists, and the private sector to help activists, and the private sector to help drive new technologies, investments, policy change, and behavior. We will emphasize social justice, as climate change disproportionately hurts poor and marginalized communities.”
Jeff Bezos explains his initiative: “I’ve spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world. I’m inspired by what they’re doing, and excited to help them scale. Today, I’m pleased to announce the first Bezos Earth Fund recipients—16 organizations working on innovative, ambitious, and needle-moving solutions. This $791 million in donations is just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others. We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”
From Bezos Earth Fund:
Here are the Earth Fund grantees: The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation, Dream Corps Green For All, Eden Reforestation Projects, Energy Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, NDN Collective, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Solutions Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.
The Bezos Earth Fund joins The Solutions Project to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and equitable access to healthy air, water, and land. The Solutions Project champions and invests in a climate justice movement that centers women and power-building organizations led by Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, and other people of color.
We know the people closest to the problems have the solutions but often do not have the funding to scale them or share their stories with the rest of the world. For example, pollution and climate change disproportionately impact people of color and women. Yet, only 0.6 percent of all foundation giving is targeted towards women of color, even though they are the very backbones of their communities, often solving several interconnected problems at once and creating solutions that benefit everyone. Their stories are not told in the media, where just 2% of clean energy news coverage last year referenced communities of color.