Amazon is allocating $15 million for nature-based projects in the Asia-Pacific region from its $100 million Right Now Climate Fund. The fund was established in 2019 to support projects that enhance climate resilience and biodiversity, while driving social benefits in the communities where Amazon operates.
“The Asia-Pacific region is home to vast forests and rich coastal environments, but it is also highly vulnerable to climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Global VP for Sustainability.
To protect the region from the impacts of climate change and preserve biodiversity, we will need both large-scale and local action – and we’re committed to investing in both,
Backs CWS to start the “Wild Carbon” program
The first $3 million from the fund’s APAC allocation will support nature-based projects in India. Amazon will partner with the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) to plant 300,000 trees in the Western Ghats over three years, creating carbon sinks as well as enhancing livelihoods and wildlife conservation. The Western Ghats is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's home to more than 30% of India's wildlife species, including the world's largest population of wild Asian elephants and tigers. Amazon will spend $1 million to help CWS establish the “Wild Carbon” program, which will support 10,000 farmers in planting and maintaining one million fruit-bearing, timber, and medicinal trees.
“We have designed the Wild Carbon program with an unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation, and also poverty alleviation through livelihood support. By partnering with and incentivising farmers to be part of the solution, we will be able to facilitate buffer habitats for tigers, elephants and other endangered species,” said CWS Executive Director Dr Krithi Karanth.
Partnership with 2,000 family farms
Amazon's direct contribution will also enable CWS to partner with 2,000 family farms. This will reduce human-wildlife conflict by creating natural buffer zones. The initiative will also provide farmers access to high-value trees compared to other subsistence crops. In addition, CWS will use project funds to develop state-of-the-art monitoring systems using drone and remote sensing technology and on-the-ground surveys to verify program outcomes, advancing research on the potential positive impact of farmers on reforestation opportunities.
“Amazon’s support enables us to plan and build a program that is self-sustaining in the long-term. The farmers will receive upfront support to select tree types that serve both their livelihoods and the wildlife, whilst also receiving technical assistance, agroforestry training, and support for replanting failed saplings,” Dr Karanth said.
How Right Now Climate Fund picks projects
The projects under the Right Now Climate Fund are selected based on their potential positive impact on local communities and livelihoods, as well as the magnitude and tangibility of benefit to the environment. Further investments in projects located in India and other APAC countries will be announced in coming months.
The Climate Pledge: net-zero carbon by 2040
Amazon's allocation from the Right Now Climate Fund for India and APAC complements its broader sustainability and decarbonisation efforts in the region. In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge, committing to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. The Pledge now has more than 400 signatories across 55 industries and 38 countries. These companies work together on initiatives that preserve the natural world and enable decarbonizing technologies. Nine Indian companies have joined the Pledge: BluPine Energy, CSM Technologies India, Godi, Greenko, HCL, Infosys, Mahindra Logistics, Tech Mahindra, and UPL. In 2022, Amazon launched six utility-scale renewable energy projects in India, and the company is on a path to powering its global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the initial 2030 target. This includes three wind-solar hybrid projects located in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, as well as three solar farms in Rajasthan, aggregating a total renewable energy capacity of 920 megawatts. Amazon India has also committed to deploying 10,000 electric vehicles in its delivery fleet by 2025, and is well on its way to achieving this goal.
RNCF projects across the globe
In 2022, Amazon and Conservation International established the International Blue Carbon Institute in Singapore. The institute aims to mitigate climate change and protect coastal communities in restoring and preserving coastal and marine carbon ecosystems, known as "blue carbon" ecosystems, in Southeast Asia and beyond. In Europe, Amazon's Right Now Climate Fund has allocated €20 million to nature-based projects. Amazon has also funded forest conservation and restoration in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. Amazon is also a founding member of The LEAF Coalition, a global public-private initiative working to mobilise over $1 billion to protect the world's tropical rainforests.