WWF marks 60 years of conservation impact and calls for urgent action for people and nature

Posted on 29 Apr 2021
Gland, Switzerland, 29 April 2021 – “As WWF turns 60, the world’s largest conservation organisation is calling for urgent action to address the global climate and nature crises and ensure a sustainable future for all. Together with governments, business and communities, we need to achieve more in the next 10 years than we have in the last 60,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

Today, it is clearer than ever before that we are witnessing a catastrophic collapse in our planet’s biodiversity. The latest Living Planet Report, WWF’s flagship science-based analysis of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet, revealed a two-thirds crash in wildlife populations on average in the last 50 years, which in turn threatens our climate, food, freshwater and health. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with its roots in rampant land-use change, deforestation and the wildlife trade, is the latest evidence that unsustainable human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on Earth to the brink. 

“Our mission has only grown in relevance over the last six decades. Today we know we can only have a safe, prosperous, healthy and equitable future for humanity on a cared-for planet where sustainable development becomes the norm,” said Lambertini. “This decade must be a turning point. COVID-19 is a wake-up call to the wide-ranging risks posed by our imbalance and destructive relationship with nature. We now need to think, and act, bigger and faster than ever before.”

“We now need to leverage the numerous and diverse relationships and deep knowledge we have built over our last 60 years, and apply ourselves with renewed vigour to innovate and co-create solutions to today’s complex, intertwined challenges of livelihood destruction, climate breakdown, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. We have no time to lose,” said Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International. 

Over 60 years WWF has been at the centre of global efforts for nature, pioneering some of the most innovative initiatives ever taken in conservation, the impacts of which are still being felt today - from supporting the establishment of world-famous protected areas such as the Galapagos and Volcanoes National Parks in Ecuador and Rwanda, to conservation of iconic species including pandas, tigers, rhinos and elephants - giving these species and many more a future. 

Guided by science, WWF has tackled a vast depth and breadth of environmental challenges through its global network and diverse partnerships, from launching the world’s first ecolabels for food and consumer products, debt swaps for nature and community-led conservancies in Namibia, to advocating for the adoption of global agreements on wetlands, wildlife trade, biodiversity and climate. 

“Our impact has been possible by working together with our many partners and supporters, and joining forces with our peers in the environmental movement. Thank you to the millions of people who have trusted and supported us, and to the thousands of WWF staff and trustees - past and present - across the world for 60 years of passion and determination,” said Lambertini. 

From its beginnings in 1961 as a small group of committed naturalists, WWF - known for its iconic panda which is a symbol of hope that people and nature can live in harmony - has expanded from protecting species and places to a systemic approach to nature conservation and sustainable development, focusing on the conservation at scale of wildlife, forests, ocean and freshwater systems, by tackling the main drivers of nature loss including energy and food production, as well as transforming markets, greening finance and improving the governance of natural resources. 

At 60, WWF has grown into a multicultural global federation of local leadership and operations active in nearly 100 countries and supported by over 35 million people worldwide, using its voice and actions to create a fairer, healthier and more sustainable world for the conservation of the natural world and well-being of people everywhere.

“Our journey is far from over. The past sixty years have seen the world undergo deep transformations, and so has WWF. One thing has not changed: our undeterred determination to contribute to a future where both people and nature thrive. Science has never been clearer and awareness has never been greater. Our society is ready for change. Together we can,” said Lambertini.