The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded on April 29, 1961, and is working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment. It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States. It is the world's largest conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects. WWF is a foundation, in 2010 deriving 57% of funding from individuals and bequests, 17% from government sources (such as the World Bank, DFID, USAID) and 11% from corporations.
The group's mission is "to stop the degradation of the planetâs natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature." Currently, much of its work focuses on the conservation of three biomes that contain most of the world's biodiversity: oceans and coasts, forests, and freshwater ecosystems. Among other issues, it is also concerned with endangered species, pollution and climate change.
The Conservation Foundation
The Conservation Foundation, a precursor to WWF, was founded in 1947 by Fairfield Osborn in New York City in support of capitalism-friendly ecological practices. The advisory council included leading scientists such as Charles Sutherland Elton, G Evelyn Hutchinson, Aldo Leopold, Carl Sauer, and Paul Sears. It supported much of the scientific work cited by Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, including that of John L. George, Roger Hale, Robert Rudd, and George Woodwell. In 1963, the Foundation held a conference and published a major report warning of anthropogenic global warming, written by Noel Eichhorn based on the work of foundation vice-president F Fraser Darling, Edward Deevey, Erik Eriksson, Charles Keeling, Gilbert Plass, Lionel Walford, and William Garnett.
In 1990, the Conservation Foundation was merged into WWF, after becoming an affiliate of WWF in 1985, when it became a distinct legal entity but with the same staff and board. The organization now known as the Conservation Foundation in the United States is the former Forest Foundation of DuPage County.
The idea for a fund on behalf of endangered animals was initially proposed by Victor Stolan to Sir Julian Huxley in response to articles he published in the British newspaper The Observer. This proposal led Huxley to put Stolan in contact with Max Nicholson, a person who had had thirty years experience of linking progressive intellectuals with big business interests through the Political and Economic Planning think tank. Nicholson thought up the name of the organization. WWF was conceived on 29 April 1961, under the name of World Wildlife Fund, and its first office was opened on 11 September that same year in Morges, Switzerland. WWF was conceived to act as a funding institution for existing conservations groups such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and The Conservation Foundation. Godfrey A. Rockefeller also played an important role in its creation, assembling the first staff. Its establishment marked with the signing of the "Morges Manifesto", the founding document that sets out the fund's ideology.
â...They need above all money, to carry out missions and to meet conservation emergencies by buying land where wildlife treasures are threatened, money, for example, to pay guardians of wildlife refuges ...for educations among those who would care... For sending experts to danger spots and training... Making it all possible that their needs are met before it is too late.â -Morges Manifesto
WWF has set up offices and operations around the world. It originally worked by fundraising and providing grants to existing non-governmental organizations, based on the best-available scientific knowledge and with an initial focus on the protection of endangered species. As more resources became available, its operations expanded into other areas such as the preservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of natural resources, the reduction of pollution, and climate change. The organization also began to run its own conservation projects and campaigns, and by the 1980s started to take a more strategic approach to its conservation activities.
In 1986, the organization changed its name to World Wide Fund for Nature, to better reflect the scope of its activities, retaining the WWF initials. However, it continued at that time to operate under the original name in the United States and Canada.
That year was the 25th anniversary of WWFâs foundation, an event marked by a gathering in Assisi, Italy to which the organizationâs International President HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, invited religious authorities representing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. These leaders produced The Assisi Declarations, theological statements showing the spiritual relationship between their followers and nature that triggered a growth in the engagement of those religions with conservation around the world.
In the 1990s, WWF revised its mission to: âStop the degradation of the planetâs natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:
- conserving the world's biological diversity;
- ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable; [and]
- promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.â
WWF scientists and many others identified 238 ecoregions that represent the world's most biologically outstanding terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats, based on a worldwide biodiversity analysis which the organization says was the first of its kind. In the early 2000s (decade), its work was focused on a subset of these ecoregions, in the areas of forest, freshwater and marine habitat conservation, endangered species conservation, climate change, and the elimination of the most toxic chemicals.
"We shan't save all we should like to, but we shall save a great deal more than if we had never tried." â"âSir Peter Scottâ
In 1996, the organization obtained general consultative status from UNESCO.
WWF's Giant Panda logo originated from a panda named Chi Chi that had been transferred from Beijing Zoo to London Zoo in 1958, three years before WWF became established. Being famous as the only panda residing in the Western world at that time, its uniquely recognisable physical features and status as an endangered species were seen as ideal to serve the organisation's need for a strong recognisable symbol that would overcome all language barriers. Moreover, the organisation also needed an animal that would have an impact in black and white printing. The logo was then designed by Sir Peter Scott from preliminary sketches made by Gerald Watterson, a Scottish naturalist. However the logo shown on this page is not the logo designed by Peter Scott but a later one, designed for WWF when it changed its name from World Wildlife Fund to World Wide Fund for Nature.
Current approach to conservation
WWF's current strategy for achieving its mission specifically focuses on restoring populations of 36 species (species or species groups that are important for their ecosystem or to people, including elephants, tunas, whales, dolphins and porpoises), and ecological footprint in 6 areas (carbon emissions, cropland, grazing land, fishing, forestry and water).
The organization also works on a number of global issues driving biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of natural resources, including finance, business practices, laws, and consumption choices. Local offices also work on national or regional issues.
WWF works with a large number of different groups to achieve its goals, including other NGOs, governments, business, investment banks, scientists, fishermen, farmers and local communities. It also undertakes public campaigns to influence decision makers, and seeks to educate people on how to live in a more environmentally friendly manner.It urges people to donate funds to protect the environment. The donors can also choose to receive gifts in return.
WWF publishes the Living Planet Index in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London. Along with ecological footprint calculations, the Index is used to produce a bi-yearly Living Planet Report giving an overview of the impact of human activity on the world.
The organization also regularly publishes reports, fact sheets and other documents on issues related to its work, in order to raise awareness and provide information to policy and decision makers.
Policies of the WWF are made by the board members who are elected for three- year terms. The Executive Team guides and develops WWF's strategy. There is also a National Council which stands as an advisory group to the board and finally a team of scientists and experts in conservation who research for WWF.
National and international law plays an important role in determining how habitats and resources are managed and used. Laws and regulations become one of the organizationâs global priorities.
The WWF has been opposed to the extraction of oil from the Canadian tar sands and has campaigned on this matter. Between 2008 and 2010 the WWF worked with The Co-operative Group, the UK's largest consumer co-operative to publish reports which concluded that: (1) exploiting the Canadian tar sands to their full potential would be sufficient to bring about what they described as 'runaway climate change; (2) carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology cannot be used to reduce the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to a level comparable to that of other methods of oil extraction; (3) the $379 billion which is expected to be spent extracting oil from tar sands could be better spent on research and development in renewable energy technology; and (4) the expansion of tar sands extraction poses a serious threat to the caribou in Alberta .
The organization convinces and helps governments and other political bodies to adopt, enforce, strengthen and/or change policies, guidelines and laws that affect biodiversity and natural resource use. It also ensures the governments to consent and/or keeps their commitment to international instruments relating to the protection of biodiversity and natural resources.
In 2012, David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK, spoke out against the way shale gas is used in the UK, saying: "...the Government must reaffirm its commitment to tackling climate change and prioritise renewables and energy efficiency."
WWF has been accused by the campaigner Corporate Watch of being too close to businesses to campaign objectively. WWF claims partnering with corporations such as Coca-Cola, Lafarge, Carlos Slim's and IKEA will reduce their impact on the environment. WWF received â¬56 million (US$80 million) from corporations in 2010 (an 8% increase in support from corporations compared to 2009), accounting for 11% of total revenue for the year.
In 1988, Prince Bernhard, previously WWF's first President, sold paintings for GBPÂ 700,000 to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund. The money was deposited in a Swiss WWF bank account. In 1989, Charles de Haes, then WWF Director-General, transferred GBPÂ 500,000 back to Bernhard for what he (de Haes) called a "private project". It was then revealed, in 1991, that Prince Bernhard had used the money to hire KAS International, owned by SAS founder David Stirling, for an operation called Project "Lock" during which mercenaries (mostly British) fought poachers in nature reserves.
Mekong River dolphins report
In June 2009, Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphins Eco-tourism Zone, charged that the WWF had misrepresented the danger of extinction of the Mekong Dolphin in order to boost fundraising. He called the WWF report unscientific and harmful to the Cambodian government and threatened the WWF's Cambodian branch with suspension unless they met with him to discuss his claims. Touch Seang Tana later said he would not press charges of supplying false information and would not make any attempt to prevent WWF from continuing its work in Cambodia since it had been a communication issue between the organizations alleging WWF documents did not sufficiently explain the findings in the reports. After this, in January 2012, they signed the "Kratie Declaration on the Conservation of the Mekong River Irrawaddy Dolphin" along with WWF and the Cambodian Fisheries Administration, an agreement binding the parties to work together on a "roadmap" addressing dolphin conservation in the Mekong River.
In 2012, German investigative journalist Wilfried Huissmann published a book called "The Silence of the Pandas". It became a bestseller in Germany, but was banned from Britain until 2014, when it was released under the title of "Pandaleaks", after a series of injunctions and court orders. The book criticises WWF for its supposed involvement with corporations that are responsible for large-scale destruction of the environment, such as Coca Cola, and gives details into the existence of the secret 1001 Club, whose members, Huismann claims, continue to have an unhealthy influence on WWF's policy making. However, WWF has sought to deny the allegations made against it.
The German public television ARD aired a documentary on 22 June 2011 that claimed to show how the WWF cooperates with corporations such as Monsanto, providing sustainability certification in exchange for donationsÂ â" i.e. greenwashing. WWF has denied the allegations. By encouraging high-impact eco-tourism, the program alleges that WWF contributes to the destruction of habitat and species it claims to protect. WWF-India is not active at the tiger reserve given as the example, but it is active elsewhere seeking to limit adverse tourism impacts and better sharing of tourism benefits to local communities. The program also alleges WWF certified a palm oil plantation operated by Wilmar International, a Singaporean company, on the Indonesian island of Borneo, even though the establishment of the plantation led to the destruction of over 14,000 hectares of rainforest. Only 80 hectares were ultimately conserved, the ARD documentary claims. According to the programme, two orangutans live on the conserved land, but have very slim chances of survival because no fruit trees remain and the habitat is too small to sustain them. To survive, they steal palm nuts from the neighbouring plantation, thereby risking being shot by plantation workers. WWF notes that the plantation filmed is PT Rimba Harapan Sakti, which has not been certified as a sustainable producer by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil. Aerial photographs show that around 4000 hectares, or about a third of the forest cover, has been conserved.
The President of Honor of WWF in Spain used to be King Juan Carlos I, who has been a known hunting enthusiast since 1962. In that year, when he was 24 years old, he was invited by the German Baron Werner von Alvensleben to a hunt in Mozambique. Since then, the king has taken part in hunting forays in Africa and Eastern Europe. In October 2004, he was a member of a hunt in Romania that killed a wolf and nine brown bears, including one that was pregnant, according to the Romanian newspaper Romania Libera. He was also accused by a Russian official of killing a bear called Mitrofan, supposedly after giving vodka to the animal, in an episode that sparked controversy in Spain, although the claim was never proven. In the same year, according to The Guardian, the Polish government allowed him to kill a European bison in BiaÅowieÅ¼a Forest, even though it is an endangered species. Further controversy arose in April 2012 when the king's participation in an elephant hunt in Botswana was discovered only after he returned to Spain on an emergency flight after tripping over a step and fracturing his hip. Many Spanish environmental groups and leftist parties criticized the monarch's hobby, and the WWF stripped him of the honorary position in July 2012, in an extraordinary assembly by 94% of the votes of the members.
Prince Charles, the UK head of the WWF, also "enjoys" hunting. He is believed, however, to adhere to legal British traditional hunting and speaks out against hunting endangered species.
Source: WWF Presidentsâ
The 1001: A Nature Trust
In the early 1970s, Prince Bernhard, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and a few associates set up the The 1001: A Nature Trust to handle the WWF's administration and fund-raising. 1001 members each contributed $10,000 to the trust.
WWF initialism dispute
In 2000, the World Wide Fund for Nature sued the World Wrestling Federation (now named WWE) for unfair trade practices. Both parties had shared the initials "WWF" since 1979. The conservation organization claimed that the wrestling company had violated a 1994 agreement regarding international use of the WWF initials.
On August 10, 2001, a U.K. court ruled in favour of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The World Wrestling Federation filed an appeal in October 2001. However, on May 5, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation changed its Web address from WWF.com to WWE.com, and replaced every "WWF" reference on the existing site with "WWE", as a prelude to changing the company's name to "World Wrestling Entertainment." Its stock ticker also switched from WWF to WWE.
Abandonment of the initialism did not end the two organizations' legal conflict. Later in 2002, the World Wide Fund for Nature petitioned the court for $360 million in damages, but was not successful. A subsequent request to overturn by the World Wide Fund for Nature was dismissed by the British Court of Appeal on June 28, 2007. In 2003, World Wrestling Entertainment won a limited decision which permitted them to continue marketing certain pre-existing products with the abandoned WWF logo. However, WWE was mandated to issue newly branded merchandise such as apparel, action figures, video games, and DVDs with the "WWE" initials. Additionally, the court order required the company to remove both auditory and visual references to "WWF" in its library of video footage outside the United Kingdom.
Starting with the 1,000th episode of Raw in July 2012, the WWF "scratch" logo is no longer censored in archival footage. In addition, the WWF initials are no longer censored when spoken or when written in plain text in archival footage. In exchange, WWE is no longer permitted to use the WWF initials or logo in any new, original footage, packaging, or advertising, with any old-school logos for retro-themed programming now using the original WWF logo, but modified without the F.
WWF in music
No One's Gonna Change Our World was a charity album released in 1969 for the benefit of the WWF.
Peter Rose and Anne Conlon are music theatre writers, well known for their environmental musicals for children, who were commissioned by WWF-UK to write several environmental musicals as part of an education plan. Some were narrated by David Attenborough, and broadcast on television in numerous countries.
The British pop group S Club 7 were ambassadors for WWF-UK during their time together as a band (1999-2003). Each of the members sponsored an endangered animal, and in 2000 they traveled to the various locations around the world of their chosen animals for a seven part BBC documentary series entitled S Club 7 Go Wild.
Environmentally Sound: A Select Anthology of Songs Inspired by the Earth is a benefit album released in 2006 for WWF-Philippines, featuring artists that included Up Dharma Down, Radioactive Sago Project, Kala, Cynthia Alexander, and Joey Ayala.
In June 2012, WWF launched an online music download store with fairsharemusic from which 50% of the profit goes to the charity.
In April 2015, Hailey Gardiner released her solo EP, titled The Woods. In honor of Earth Day, 15% of the proceeds made towards the purchase of the EP would be donated to the WWF.
Notable programs and campaigns
- Debt-for-Nature Swap
- Earth Hour
- Healthy Grown
- Marine Stewardship Council
- Centres of Plant Diversity
- Conservation movement
- Environmental movement
- Eugene Green Energy Standard, founded by the WWF.
- Global 200, ecoregions identified by the WWF as priorities for conservation.
- Natural environment
- Sustainable development
- TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, a joint programme of WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- World Conservation Award, created in conjunction with the WWF.
- West Coast Environmental Law
- Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund
- List of environmental organizations
- WorldWildlife, WWF's corporate HQ website that includes a list of its Board members.
- WWF's channel on YouTube.
- WWF's global network
- WWF Scotland