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World Wildlife Fund

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Title: World Wildlife Fund  
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Subject: Aquaculture, Southeast Alaska, Geography of Burundi, Geography of Cameroon, Geography of Cape Verde, Geography of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dolphin, Ganges, Giant panda, Great Victoria Desert
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World Wildlife Fund

World Wide Fund for Nature
Charitable trust
Founded April 29, 1961
(First office opened in September 11, 1961 in Morges, Switzerland)

Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld

Julian Huxley [1]
Max Nicholson
Peter Scott
Guy Mountfort
Godfrey A. Rockefeller [2]
Key people HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
(President Emeritus)
Yolanda Kakabadse
James Leape
(Director General)
Area served Worldwide
Focus(es) Environmentalism, Conservation, Ecology
Method(s) Lobbying, research, consultancy
Revenue 525 million (2010) [3]
Motto For a Living Planet

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300[4] conservation and environmental projects. WWF is a foundation,[5] 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.[3]

The group says its mission is "to halt and reverse the destruction of our environment".[6] 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 idea for a fund on behalf of endangered animals was initially proposed by Victor Stolan to Julian Huxley in response to articles he published in the Observer. This proposal led Julian Huxley to put Victor Stolan in contact with Max Nicholson, a person that had had thirty years experience of linking progressive intellectuals with big business interests through the Political and Economic Planning think tank.[1][7][8] Max 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. Godfrey A. Rockefeller also played an important role in its creation, assembling the first staff.[2] Its establishment marked with the signing of the founding document called Morges Manifesto[9] that lays out the formulation ideas of its establishment. A separate organization, The American Conservation Association, was merged into the WWF.[10]

“...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.” -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 continues to operate under the original name in the United States and Canada.[6]

That year was the 25th anniversary of WWF’s foundation, an event marked by a gathering in Assisi, Italy to which the organisation’s 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.[11]

In the 1990s, WWF revised its mission to: “Stop the degradation of the planet’s 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

• promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.”

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.[12] 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. — Sir Peter Scott [13]

In 1996, the organization obtained general consultative status from UNESCO.

Panda symbol

The Giant Panda mascot of WWF originated from a panda named Chi Chi that was transferred from the Beijing Zoo to the London Zoo in the same year of the establishment of WWF. As the only giant panda residing in the Western world at that time, along with its physical features and status as an endangered species, panda is seen to serve the need of a strong recognizable symbol of the organization. Moreover, the organization also needs an animal that would have an impact in black and white printing. The logo was then designed by Sir Peter Scott from the preliminary sketches made by a Scottish naturalist, Gerald Watterson.[14][15]

Current conservation approach

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.[16]

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 their ecological footprint calculations the index is used to produce a two yearly Living Planet Report to give an overview of the impact of human activity on the world.[17]

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.[18]

Work with governments

The organization works with governments as collaborator and lobbyist.[19]

Policy making

Policies of the WWF are made by the board members who are elected for three- year terms. The Executive Teams 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 organization’s global priorities. 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.[20][21]

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."[22]


WWF has been accused by a number of environmental groups and campaigners, such as Corporate Watch and PR Watch of being too close to businesses to campaign objectively.[23][24] WWF claims partnering with companies such as Coca-Cola, Lafarge and IKEA will reduce their impact on the environment.[25] 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.[3]

Project Lock

In 1988, Prince Bernhard, former president of the WWF, sold paintings for GBP700,000 to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund. The money was deposited in a Swiss WWF bank account. In 1989 Charles de Haes, director-general of the WWF, transferred GBP500,000 back to Bernhard, for what De Haes called a private project. In 1991, it was revealed that Prince Bernhard had used the money for an operation called Project Lock to hire KAS International, owned by SAS founder David Stirling, to use mercenaries—mostly British—to fight poachers in nature reserves.[26]

Mekong River dolphins report

In June 2009, Touch Seang Tana, chairman of

ARD documentary

The German public television ARD aired a documentary on 22 June 2011, showing how the WWF cooperates with corporations such as Monsanto, providing sustainability certification in exchange for donations (a form of greenwashing).[30] WWF has denied the allegations.[31] 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,[32] 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.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35] In the same year, according to The Guardian, the Polish government allowed him to kill a European bison in Bialowieza forest, even though it is an endangered species.[36] 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.[37] Many Spanish environmentalist groups and leftist parties criticized the monarch's hobby,[38] and the WWF stripped him of the honorary position in July 2012, in an extraordinary assembly by 94% of the votes of the members.[39]

Prince Charles, the UK head of the WWF,[40] is also a keen hunter.[41]


Presidents 1962–present[42]
Years Name
1961–1976 HRH Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld
1976–1981 John Hugo Loudon
1981–1996 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
1996–1999 Syed Babar Ali
2000 Ruud Lubbers
2000–2001 Hon. Sara Morrison
2001–2010 Chief Emeka Anyaoku
from 2010 Yolanda Kakabadse

1001 Club

Main article: 1001 Club

In the early 1970s, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, together with a few associates, set up the 1001 Nature Trust, its purpose being to cover the administrative and fund-raising aspects of the WWF. The club garnered 1001 members who each contributed $10,000 to the trust.[13]

WWF abbreviation 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.[43][44]

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 to, 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.

In 2012, WWE was once again allowed to show the "WWF" logo and say "WWF".

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 Sir 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, Cynthia Alexander, and Joey Ayala.[45]

In June 2012, WWF launched an online music download store with fairsharemusic from which 50% of the profit goes to the charity.

Notable programs and campaigns

WWF global initiatives

In 2008, through the Global Programme Framework (GPF), WWF is now focusing its efforts on 13 Global Initiatives:[46]

  • Amazon
  • Arctic
  • China for a Global Shift
  • Climate & Energy
  • Coastal East Africa
  • Coral Triangle
  • Forest and Climate
  • Green Heart of Africa
  • Heart of Borneo
  • Living Himalayas
  • Market Transformation
  • Smart Fishing
  • Tigers

See also

Sustainable development portal
Environment portal
Ecology portal
Earth sciences portal


External links

  •, WWF international Web site
  • WorldWildlife - the corporate HQ of WWF listing Board Members
  •, WWF international mobile website
  • YouTube
  • WWF's global network
    • WWF-UK
      • Charity Commission
    • WWF Scotland
    • WWF-India


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