In the context of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon Inc, announced that his philanthropic organisation, The Bezos Earth Fund, will pledge USD 2 billion towards natural conservation, restoration and transformation of food services. This commitment is part of a larger plan to invest USD 10 billion over the next decade to develop new technologies to fight climate change.
At COP26, Bezos met with the sitting presidents of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica and Bolivia to create the largest protected marine area on the planet. He later posted a tweet in which he said that the protected area will cover an area larger than the state of California.
A representative of Panama’s Ministry of Environment commented, “The highlight of the agreement is that four tropical countries in Latin America, with enormous wealth, are committed to advancing the protection of four islands in the tropical East Pacific. This corridor is home to exceptional biodiversity, endemism and concentration of species.”
“Four tropical countries in Latin America, with enormous wealth, are committed to advancing the protection of four islands in the tropical East Pacific.”
Representative, Panama’s Ministry of Environment
Although Bezos did not specify any details in relation to the funds allocated or technical coordination with governments, the Bezos Earth Fund traditionally invests in regions and countries where there is the greatest need and opportunity. The Fund also prioritises countries with strong political commitments and where indigenous peoples are at the centre of the conservation programmes.
President Arce of Bolivia welcomed the initiative and said that the funds would be invested in the integral and sustainable management of rainforests. Arce emphasised that global warming and the melting of glaciers in the Andes endangered the indigenous communities in the country by limiting their access to drinking water and agricultural systems.
A seasoned entrepreneur in Bolivia found President Arce’s position ridiculous, “Arce shows one face inside Bolivia and another outside the country. This initiative strongly contradicts his anti-imperialist rhetoric and his tough stance against private businesses. He openly stated his priority is to reduce poverty and that all natural resources should be used for this. He even called environmentalists ‘representatives of the Empires’.”
“Arce shows one face inside Bolivia and another outside the country. This initiative strongly contradicts his anti-imperialist rhetoric and his tough stance against private business.”
Seasoned entrepreneur, Bolivia
Bolivia ranks second in terms of deforestation, globally. In 2019, the government signed a decree that authorised the burning of trees for deforestation. A political analyst commented, “Arce is looking for his own voice, to step out from behind Morales and be seen on the international stage as a powerful man. There was no reason for Bolivia to be in that conversation, the country doesn’t even have a coast. Arce wants to show the world that his government is fighting for the environment, without assuming any commitments to multilateral schemes.”