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Bezos, Bloomberg among donors committing $5b to protect biodiversity

  • Nine philanthropic organizations will provide $5 billion over the next decade for conservation efforts all over the globe.
  • Donors include the Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, Re:wild, the Arcadia Fund, and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.
  • The fund is intended to reach the 30×30 initiative goal of protecting 30 % of the planet’s biodiversity by 2030.
  • Studies show this could protect 80% of plant and animal species and preserve 60% of carbon stocks and 66 % of clean water.

A group of philanthropic organizations has come together to pledge $5 billion for the creation and expansion of protected areas across the planet, one of the largest private investments ever made for environmental conservation.

Over the next decade, the nine organizations will fund the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge” to maintain and grow protected areas, and strengthen Indigenous guardianship of traditional territory.

“For our grandchildren and their grandchildren to have the same opportunities we’ve had, for them to inherit a functioning planet, we have to rapidly slow the rate at which our economies are destroying nature,” said Hansjörg Wyss, founder and chairman of the Wyss Foundation, one of the participating organizations.

Bezos Earth Fund CEO Andrew Steer and Rainforest Trust CEO James Deutsch sit with Costa Rica President Carlos Quesada and other world leaders at the Transformative Action for Nature and People event. (via Rainforest Trust)

Also donating was the Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, Re:wild, the Arcadia Fund, and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.

The announcement was made Sept. 22 at the Transformative Action for Nature and People, a U.N. General Assembly event attended in-person and virtually by world leaders and environmental ministers from across the globe, as well as philanthropic groups and representatives of Indigenous communities.

The Bezos Earth Fund contributed $1 billion to the challenge as part of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s plan to donate $10 billion to climate-related causes over the next decade.

The Rainforest Trust and Wyss Foundation each committed to donating $500 million to the fund. For the Wyss Foundation, it amounts to more than $1 billion in conservation donations over the last three years, part of a long-term, climate pledge made by Wyss.

Ocean, reef, and rainforest in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Southeast Asia is another biodiversity hotspot where rapid land use change is generating substantial greenhouse gas emissions and degradation of ecosystem services. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler.

The fund will support various conservation projects in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America, including land titling for Indigenous territories, the creation of government-protected areas, and land purchases for private reserves, among other projects, the Rainforest Trust told Mongabay.

“We think it’s about time that private funders and public funders, especially in developed countries and wealthy countries, step up to say, yes we understand much of the world’s biodiversity is in developing countries and that many of those developing countries are asking to make commitments to conserve it. But they need financing in order to make that possible,” Rainforest Trust CEO James Deutsch told Mongabay.

The Protecting Our Planet Challenge will attempt to meet the goals of the 30×30 initiative, which aims to protect 30% of the planet’s most important biodiverse areas by 2030.

The idea was spearheaded by Costa Rica, France and the U.K. through the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, an intergovernmental alliance of more than 70 countries that together account for 42% of land biodiversity and 44% of ocean biodiversity.

Rainforest Trust CEO James Deutsch with Colombian President Iván Duque. (via Rainforest Trust)

The 30×30 initiative is also separately supported by the IUCN and its coalition of 1,400 civil society organizations, as well as governments and Indigenous peoples’ organizations.

Focusing on the 30% of the planet with the highest biodiversity should, according to numerous studies, protect 80% of plant and animal species and preserve 60% of carbon stocks and 66% of clean water.

“A global 30×30 conservation target is not an arbitrary aspiration — it is a scientific and moral necessity,” said Antha Williams, who heads the climate and environment programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We need increased political leadership and funding to slow the alarming loss of coral reefs, mangroves and other ecosystems critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change.”

Ivindo River in Gabon. The Congo Basin has been identified as a strategic priority region for support by the Bezos Earth Fund. Photo credit: ZB / Mongabay

Targets for preserving biodiversity in 2010 said that about 13% of the planet was protected but noted a lack of ocean protections. Today, about 15% of land is protected and 7% of the ocean, according to the HAC.

To reach 30% over the next decade, the HAC said, they will have to double the amount of protected land and quadruple ocean protections.

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