Climate

Jeff Bezos says traveling to space changed how he thinks about nature

Key Points
  • Jeff Bezos on Monday promised to give away $1 billion in grants this year to support efforts around conservation.
  • The pledge is part of the Bezos Earth Fund, the Amazon founder's $10 billion commitment to support scientists, activists and organizations working to address climate change.
  • In the coming years, the fund plans to support efforts around landscape restoration and food system transportation.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on September 19, 2019, in Washington.
Paul Morigi | Getty Images | Amazon

Jeff Bezos on Monday pledged to give away $1 billion in grants this year with a focus on conservation efforts.

The pledge comes through the Bezos Earth Fund, which the Amazon founder and chairman started in 2020 to execute his $10 billion commitment to fight climate change. The Bezos Earth Fund has pledged to donate about $1 billion a year to activists, scientists and other groups working to address the globe's climate crisis, with a goal of spending $10 billion by 2030.

"Nature is our life support system and it's fragile," Bezos said Monday at an event in New York City. "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."

Following this year's focus on conservation, the fund said that in the coming years it intends to support efforts around landscape restoration and food system transportation.

The latest round of grants will be used to "create, expand, manage and monitor protected and conserved areas," the Bezos Earth Fund said in a release. To start, the fund plans to focus on Central Africa's Congo Basin, the tropical Andes region and the tropical Pacific Ocean, all of which are key areas for biodiversity and carbon stocks, or the amount of carbon stored in things such as vegetation, soils and oceans.

"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," Bezos said in a statement. "We can and must reverse this anomaly."

Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon in July, handing the reins over to former cloud boss Andy Jassy and transitioning into the role of executive chairman. Bezos is now expected to spend more time on initiatives like the Earth Fund and his Blue Origin spaceship company, which launched him to the edge of space in July.

It is not yet known which organizations will receive the grants. The gifts will be prioritized in areas where local communities and Indigenous peoples are a main focus of conservation programs, among other considerations, the Bezos Earth Fund said.

Earlier this month, the fund said it would give away $203.7 million by the end of the year to organizations advancing climate justice, among other causes. That's after it awarded $791 million in grants last year to 16 organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Nature Conservancy.

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