The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of humanity’s footprint on the environment. It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.
Find out some interesting facts about it, here!
1. 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.
2. The advisory council included leading scientists such as Charles Sutherland Elton, G Evelyn Hutchinson, Aldo Leopold, Carl Sauer, and Paul Sears.
3. 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.
4. 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 Frank Fraser Darling, Edward Deevey, Erik Eriksson, Charles Keeling, Gilbert Plass, Lionel Walford, and William Garnett.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. In 1986, the organization changed its name to World Wide Fund for Nature, while retaining the WWF initials. However, it continued at that time to operate under the original name in the United States and Canada.
16. That year was the 25th anniversary of WWF’s foundation, an event marked by a gathering in Assisi, Italy to which the organization’s International President HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, invited religious authorities representing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.
17. 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.
18. WWF has been accused by the campaigner Corporate Watch of being too close to businesses to campaign objectively.
19. WWF claims partnering with corporations such as Coca-Cola, Lafarge, Carlos Slim’s and IKEA will reduce their effect on the environment.
20. WWF received €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.
21. In 1988, Prince Bernhard, previously WWF’s first President, sold paintings for GBP 700,000 to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund. The money was deposited in a Swiss WWF bank account.
22. In 1989, Charles de Haes, then WWF Director-General, transferred GBP 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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 organization’s global priorities.
27. In a 2016 complaint to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The nonprofit group Survival International accused WWF of inadvertently facilitating serious human-rights abuses against indigenous pygmy inhabitants of the rainforest in Cameroon.
28. The complaint alleged that “anti-poaching eco-guards who were part-funded and logistically helped by WWF, victimised the hunter gatherer Baka people, razed to the ground their camps, destroyed or confiscated their property, forced them to relocate and have regularly used physical force and threats of violence against them”.
29. It was the first such complaint to be made against a conservation group.
30. The complaint alleges that WWF violated OECD guidelines for the conduct of multinational companies and the UN Declaration of human rights.
31. WWF responded saying that eco-guards were for the most part “protecting the integrity and resources of a [forest] zoning system that includes community forests, hunting and access zones vital to Baka communities.” The group disclaimed knowledge of any direct involvement by its staff in rights abuses.
32. Survival International has also accused WWF of violating its own policies regarding indigenous people’s rights by forming a partnership with French logging company Rougier, which it says is responsible for large areas of deforestation in southeast Cameroon, illegally and without the consent of local Baka tribespeople.
33. WWF France stated in 2015 that it had entered a “three-year strategic collaboration” with the Rougier Group.