Foundations pledge record $ 5 billion in biodiversity funding

On Wednesday, nine foundations pledged a total of $ 5 billion to protect and conserve 30% of the planet by 2030, marking the largest ever private funding commitment to biodiversity.

The foundations aim to create and expand conserved and protected spaces while drawing on the leadership and management capacities of indigenous peoples on the ground.

Their goals align with “30×30” approach proposed by the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People – a 70-member intergovernmental group that aims to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

The foundations – which include the Bezos Earth Fund, created by the founder of Amazon Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosSpace: One Important Thing That May Get Bipartite Attention Virtual Realities May Solve Fermi’s Paradox on Aliens Reinvigorate Senator Harry Reid’s UAP Legacy MORE – announced for the first time their funding commitment on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“It’s a pivotal point,” said Andrew Steer, CEO and Chairman of the Bezos Earth Fund, at a panel discussion hosted by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Environment Program. United Nations for Development.

“One of the most exciting things over the past three months has been working with eight other philanthropists – all of whom want to respond to this moment, who all want to break down the barriers that keep us from getting past this tipping point.”

The Bezos Earth Fund – which made headlines Monday with its $ 1 billion pledge to biodiversity – will work alongside Arcadia, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, Re: wild, Wyss Foundation and Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.

Establishing protected areas is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect both nature and vulnerable human populations, the partners said. Studies indicate that the conservation and effective stewardship of at least 30 percent of the planet could protect up to 80 percent of plant and animal species, while securing 60 percent of carbon stocks and 66 percent of resources. in clean water, depending on the foundation.

Responding to the reasons the foundations decided to commit funds at the time, Steer noted that “philanthropy should not replace public money. It is to supplement public money. We all have a role to play. “

James Deutsch, CEO of Rainforest Trust, which pledged $ 500 million, praised developing countries like Costa Rica and Colombia for paving the way for the expansion of protected areas, and urged other countries to also join.

“It requires financial support, and while a few wealthy countries, like Norway, are in this room and take up this challenge, many others are not yet,” Deutsch said.

Although Deutsch agreed that private money is not a substitute for public money, he stressed that private funds have the power both to act quickly and to challenge the public sector to “rise to the challenge. “.

The United States is a country whose contributions have been “woefully insufficient” so far, said Brian O’Donnell, director of Campaign for Nature, a partnership of more than 100 conservation organizations.

The campaign calls on policymakers to commit to similar 30×30 goals at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in China next month. Among the campaign’s supporters is the Wyss Foundation, which pledged $ 500 million on Wednesday.

Grateful President BidenJoe Biden Are we investing trillions in what matters? Biden praises Reid as a fighter “for the America we all love” at Fox News memorial service tops ratings for coverage of the events of January 6 MOREThe goal set this spring to protect 30% of the country’s land and water by 2030, O’Donnell said, “the United States has been largely absent from international conversations.”

“It’s time for the United States to step up international conservation of nature,” he told The Hill. “We have a responsibility to help protect nature in developing countries, in the tropics and in the oceans. “

Now that the level of private funds has been established, the foundations are discussing how to distribute the money, O’Donnell said. Rather than creating a single $ 5 billion pool, individual foundations will focus their efforts on the different regions they support.

But whatever the specific region and foundation, O’Donnell said, working with local communities will be essential.

“The world’s biodiversity is largely concentrated in areas managed by indigenous peoples in local communities, so supporting them directly must be a central part of this funding,” he said, citing examples such as the The Indigenous Guardians of the Canadian Government program, which began with an initial investment of $ 25 million to enable indigenous peoples to manage their traditional lands.

O’Donnell said he could envision the new funding stream benefiting initiatives such as a timber restoration effort in the Congo Basin or the expansion of a marine protected area in Costa Rica. The funds would also serve to empower local people – and encourage governments to assign land rights to communities that don’t yet have them, while also giving indigenous peoples a seat at the table, O’Donnell added.

“Indigenous peoples are one of the most important contributors to the fight against climate change and also to the protection of all biodiversity,” said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, coordinator of the Association of Fulani Women and Indigenous Peoples of Chad. , during the round table on Wednesday.

Ibrahim called on governments to design a process that includes indigenous peoples in their biodiversity planning initiatives, because they are the ones on the ground, protecting 80 percent of the world’s diversity. She also expressed support for “a clear and broad investment” to help conserve this land.

“We sat in the passenger seat for so long,” Ibrahim added. “It’s time for us – for the government to give us the wheel and let us take the wheel. “