The Bezos Earth Fund, a USD 10 billion (EUR 9.2 billion) fund created by Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, has committed USD 100 million (EUR 92 million) to the recently formed Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity (UBPP) initiative.
The UBPP initiative was announced at COP28 by a number of member organizations and governments, including the Palau President Surangel Whipps, Tonga Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni, Fiji Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lesikimacuata Korovavala, and more. The initiative will cover 100 percent of the “Blue Pacific Continent,” an area of the ocean covering more than 1 billion hectares.
"Pacific Islands States are custodians of 30 percent of the world's precious coral systems, provide over 50 percent of the global tuna supply, and care for the largest carbon sink on the planet," Bezos Earth Fund President and CEO Andrew Steer said in a release. "We are delighted to lend our support for this bold initiative to secure the health, food security, and livelihoods of people across the region. We urge other partners to join us to support this bold vision."
According to a release from the Bezos Earth Fund, the UBPP will protect 30 percent of the “continent,” which covers an area five times the size of the entire U.S. The new initiative will also, according to WWF-Pacific – another supporter of the UBPP initiative – take a “multi-goal” approach that includes ocean management and food systems in its objectives.
"There is no greater threat to the people of the Pacific than climate change," Whipps said. "It threatens our security, our livelihoods, and our wellbeing. We are committed to leading this effort to protect our region and its extraordinary cultures and ecosystems. We're thrilled to partner with the Bezos Earth Fund on this initiative and call on others to join us."
The massive area of the Pacific covered by the UBPP also impacts the rest of the world, Sovaleni said.
"We understand that, because of its vast size, what happens to our Pacific is make or break for the planet. That's why we have committed to protecting 30 percent of our Blue Continent as we strive to protect and sustainably manage critical ecosystems,” Sovaleni said.
Korovavala added that for Pacific Island states, impacts from climate change are a very real threat that makes initiatives like UBPP essential for their survival.
“Failure is not an option for our citizens, for our communities and our countries that are threatened and ravaged by hurricanes, cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves, sea level rise, biodiversity loss, food and water security challenges,” Korovavala said. “The Pacific SIDS [small island developing states] are extremely vulnerable to climate-induced disasters that could wipe out decades of development gain in a few hours.”
The initiative differs from some other efforts to protect the environment around Pacific islands in that it directly comes from the leadership of the region – meaning the efforts can be tailored to the needs of the region rather than to the needs of the other countries trying to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“Acknowledging the urgency, WWF-Pacific stands poised to contribute to this coalition, leveraging its expertise and partnerships to drive impactful change,” WWF-Pacific Director Mark Drew said. "We believe this initiative is crucial in delivering meaningful and targeted impacts, not just for the Pacific but for the planet.”
Photo courtesy of WWF-Pacific