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All About the World Wildlife Fund

WWF Background

­The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (known as WWF) safeguards nature and ecological processes. Its mission is "to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature." Through policy work, advocacy, grass-roots action, education, and capacity building, WWF acts to:

  • conserve the world's biological diversity
  • ensure that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
  • promote the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption

How WWF Began
WWF was started after a trip was made in 1960 by the renowned British biologist and first General Director of UNESCO, Sir Julian Huxley, who went to East Africa to report on wildlife conservation in the area. Huxley was not pleased by what he observed and warned that much of the region's wildlife could disappear within the next 20 years.

­Endangered Species

­In response to his admonition, early the next year, a group of committed experts gathered to establish an organization that would support conservation efforts. The group decided to base its operations in Switzerland.

At the same time, a panda named Chi-Chi was a widely popular attraction at the London Zoo. The group decided that a panda would make a superb logo for the new organization.

And so, in September of 1961, the World Wildlife Fund was officially formed. In its first three years, WWF raised and donated almost $1.9 million to conservation projects. Its first grants went to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the International Council for Bird Preservation (now Birdlife International), the International Waterfowl Research Bureau, and the International Youth Federation for the Study and Conservation of Nature. Other early substantial donations went to the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands and Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Natural Facts
  • As much as 20 percent of the world's species could be gone in the next 30 years.
  • The over-exploitation of forests for timber, fuel, agricultural land, and other basic needs has wiped out more than half of the world's original forest cover.
  • 1998 was the warmest year ever measured in history, and all 10 of the warmest years recorded over the last 120 years have occurred since 1981.
  • Nearly 60,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises are killed each year worldwide by entanglement.
  • In the last 50 years, more than 75,000 chemicals have been developed and introduced into the environment.
Source: WWF

WWF Today
Currently, there are 24 affiliates of WWF International, plus five organizations that are associated with WWF but operate under a different name. In addition, WWF has primary offices and associates in over 40 countries.

Two offices of note are the WWF office in Brussels, which deals with the policies and activities of the European Union (EU), and the WWF office in Washington, D.C., which works to influence global institutions involved in international economic issues.

WWF outgrew its headquarters in Switzerland after its first two decades, and in 1979, thanks to an anonymous donation, the organization moved from Morges to the city of Gland. In 1986, WWF changed its official name from "World Wildlife Fund" to "World Wildlife Fund For Nature," though the U.S. and Canada have continued to use "World Wildlife Fund." In 2001, the organization won a legal claim against the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) over use of the initials WWF.