The Bezos Earth Fund is giving a $10 million grant to Water.org to improve water systems in developing countries disproportionately affected by climate change, the organizations announced Thursday. The funding is intended to reduce water and energy waste and create sustainable infrastructure for 20 million people
“Improving and expanding the ability of local utilities to provide safe water and improved sanitation is critical to helping people living in poverty build resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as water scarcity, droughts and floods,” said Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org, in a statement The Hollywood Reporter. “In partnership with the Bezos Earth Fund, we are committed to solving the water crisis, which is inextricably linked to the climate crisis.”
In their joint announcement, the organizations explain that purifying and pumping water requires a significant amount of electricity and is often exacerbated by leaky utility lines, which waste energy and can unnecessarily contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions. (Watch the video announcement below.)
Due to rising global temperatures and increasingly intense weather disasters during the climate crisis, the organizations note, people living in developing countries are at risk of critical shortages of freshwater supplies. The partnership will promote a new Water and Climate Philanthropic Fund and will unlock $1 billion in investments that will provide small-scale water utilities with the financing needed to improve water and sanitation infrastructure and increase access to clean water for 100 million people .
“Access to safe water is crucial,” said Lauren Sánchez, vice president of the Bezos Earth Fund. “Water.org’s efforts to address the water crisis and improve access to safe water and sanitation also reduce water and energy waste. We are proud to help this team provide millions of people with access to safe water while helping to achieve critical climate and biodiversity goals.”
Water.org will provide microloans to support infrastructure and promote policy change in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Kenya and Brazil.
“This investment represents a rare win-win-win situation,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “Tackling leakage will make water available to many more people, improve health and livelihoods, make communities more resilient and help us reduce carbon emissions. In fact, every dollar of philanthropic funding will provide another $16 of capital to finance water and sanitation.”
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched the Bezos Earth Fund in 2020 and pledged to invest $10 billion to protect nature and drive systematic change, working with organizations to create a more just and sustainable world. Water.org is a global nonprofit organization founded by Damon and Gary White that aims to transform lives by increasing access to safe water.