World Wide Fund for Nature

World Wide Fund for Nature
WWF logo
AbbreviationWWF
Formation29 April 1961; 57 years ago (1961-04-29) (as World Wildlife Fund)a
Founders
TypeCharitable trust
Purpose
HeadquartersRue Mauverny,
Gland, Vaud, Switzerland
Region
Worldwide
Methods
  • Lobbying
  • research
  • consultancy
President
Pavan Sukhdev
President Emeritus
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Director General
Marco Lambertini
Revenue
www.worldwildlife.org

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 human impact on the environment.[4] It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.[4]

WWF is the world's largest conservation organization with over five million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects.[5] They have invested over $1 billion in more than 12,000 conservation initiatives since 1995.[6] WWF is a foundation with 55% of funding from individuals and bequests, 19% from government sources (such as the World Bank, DFID, USAID) and 8% from corporations in 2014.[7][8]

WWF aims to "stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature."[9] The Living Planet Report is published every two years by WWF since 1998; it is based on a Living Planet Index and ecological footprint calculation.[4] In addition, WWF has launched several notable worldwide campaigns including Earth Hour and Debt-for-Nature Swap, and its current work is organized around these six areas: food, climate, freshwater, wildlife, forests, and oceans.[4][6]

History

Precursor: the Conservation Foundation

The Conservation Foundation, a precursor to WWF, was founded in 1948 by Fairfield Osborn as an affiliate of the New York Zoological Society (today known as the Wildlife Conservation Society) with an aim of protecting the world's natural resources. The advisory council included leading scientists such as Charles Sutherland Elton, G. Evelyn Hutchinson, Aldo Leopold, Carl Sauer, and Paul Sears.[10] 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.

Founding: Morges Manifesto

Earth Hour 2013 at the Verona Arena amphitheatre, Piazza Bra, Verona, Italy before (top) and while the street lighting was switched off.

The idea for a fund on behalf of endangered animals was officially 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.[1][11][12] 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 conservation groups such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and The Conservation Foundation.[13] Godfrey A. Rockefeller also played an important role in its creation, assembling the first staff.[2] Its establishment was marked with the signing of the "Morges Manifesto", the founding document that sets out the fund's commitment to assisting worthy organizations struggling to save the world's wildlife:[14]

They need above all money, to carry out mercy missions and to meet conservation emergencies by buying land where wildlife treasures are threatened, and in many other ways. Money, for example, to pay guardians of wildlife refuges .... Money for education and propaganda among those who would care and help if only they understood. Money to send out experts to danger spots and to train more local wardens and helpers in Africa and elsewhere. Money to maintain a sort of 'war room' at the international headquarters of conservation, showing where the danger spots are and making it possible to ensure that their needs are met before it is too late.

— Morges Manifesto

Dutch Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld helped found the World Wildlife Fund, becoming its first President in 1961. 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 Frank Fraser Darling (then foundation vice president), Edward Deevey, Erik Eriksson, Charles Keeling, Gilbert Plass, Lionel Walford, and William Garnett.[15]

In 1970, along with Duke of Edinburgh and a few associates, Prince Bernhard established the WWF's financial endowment The 1001: A Nature Trust to handle the WWF's administration and fund-raising. 1001 members each contributed $10,000 to the trust.[16] Prince Bernhard resigned his post after being involved in the Lockheed Bribery Scandal.[17]

Recent development

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.

A WWF hot air balloon in Mexico (2013).

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.[18]

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. 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]

In the 1990s, WWF revised its mission statement 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; [and]
  • 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.[19] 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[16]

In 1990, the Conservation Foundation was completely merged into WWF, after becoming an affiliate of WWF-US in 1985 when it became a distinct legal entity but with the same staff and board.[4] The organization now known as the Conservation Foundation in the United States is the former Forest Foundation of DuPage County.[13][20] In 1996, the organization obtained general consultative status from UNESCO.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: WWF
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сусьветны фонд дзікай прыроды
Deutsch: WWF
Esperanto: WWF
français: WWF
furlan: WWF
Bahasa Indonesia: World Wide Fund for Nature
italiano: WWF
magyar: WWF
Bahasa Melayu: Tabung Alam Sedunia
ភាសាខ្មែរ: WWF
српски / srpski: Svetska fondacija za prirodu
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Svetska fondacija za prirodu
suomi: WWF