The Bezos Earth Fund, launched in 2020 with a $10 billion commitment from Jeff Bezos in support of efforts to address climate change, has announced the appointment of Andrew Steer as president and CEO as well as plans to spend down by 2030.
Steer has served for the past eight years as president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, which was awarded $100 million by the Bezos Earth Fund in November as part of a $791 million inaugural round of funding to sixteen organizations. “Jeff’s goal is to spend [the fund] down between now and 2030, the date by which the SDGs must be achieved,” Steer wrote in a Twitter post. “The Earth Fund will invest in scientists, NGOs, 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. If allocated creatively, wisely, and boldly the Earth Fund has the potential for transformative influence in this decisive decade.”
Spending down by 2030 would mean allocating $1 billion a year on average. That it plans to “invest…in the private sector” suggests that “at least part of the Bezos Earth Fund’s structure would be through a limited liability company, since it is difficult for other philanthropic vehicles such as private foundations to make major investments in for-profit companies,” Recode reports, noting that “an LLC, while more nimbly allowing for for-profit investments, is not required to file public tax documents that offer regular disclosures.” Other prominent LLCs being used as philanthropic vehicles include Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Pierre and Pam Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, which operates both an LLC and a philanthropic arm; Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, and Jack Dorsey’s #startsmall.
While at WRI, Steer oversaw the development of more than a dozen impactful, high-profile coalitions and initiatives, including working with economists to reshape public understanding of the economics of climate change, mobilizing a global commission to elevate climate adaptation on the political agenda, and launching a $10 million-a-year initiative to help more than a hundred countries implement national climate plans.
“The $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund has the potential to be a transformative force for good at this decisive point in history,” said Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism and former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “Andrew’s global reputation, deep technical knowledge and experience, and commitment to social justice make him a perfect leader for the fund.”