World’s richest families are backing Gabon’s Conservation ambition

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Some of the world’s richest families have entered a financial arrangement that will help the planet’s second-most forested nation conserve 30% of its natural capital.

The agreement with Gabon is backed by Enduring Earth, a partnership that includes The Nature Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts and Zomalab, which is the office of Ben and Lucy Ana Walton of the family that founded Walmart Inc. Money has also been provided by the Bezos Earth Fund, backed by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Inc. The financial details of the deal weren’t made public.

Under the agreement, known as a Project Finance for Permanence, the central African nation will bring to 80,000 square kilometers (30,888 square miles) the amount of forest under protection, 60,000 square kilometers of ocean and 19,000 square kilometers of rivers by 2030, the country said in a joint statement with its funders on Friday. 

About 22% of Gabon’s land is already under protection, as is 27% of its ocean territory. The nation is home to large populations of endangered forest elephants and lowland gorillas and its waters host a number of whale and dolphin species.

We plan to develop innovative “sustainable finance mechanisms to protect our lands, oceans, and freshwater resources,” Lee White, Gabon’s environmental minister, said in the statement. “We are committed to developing this PFP as a step-change for Gabon’s approach to financing nature.”

Gabon will be the first nation to commit to protecting 30% of its natural capital, according to White

Credit: Mark-Anthony Johnson