for the green heart of europe

wwf-cee 2025-30 strategic plan

together possible®

We are facing an existential crisis - worldwide and in our region, driven by climate change and biodiversity loss. The impacts of these interrelated crises are already affecting communities, businesses and society as a whole, and increasing the already existing instability of our political, economic and social systems. Science tells us we have about 10 years to change our path and avoid the most catastrophic consequences.

Our Strategic Plan represents an important step toward saving what we call the "Green Heart of Europe", including many of Europe’s greatest natural treasures, but also toward pioneering a new operational model for WWF globally.

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our region is unique

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The "Green heart of Europe" contains many of Europe’s greatest natural values, including primary and old-growth forests, wetlands and free-flowing rivers as well as areas of wilderness.

It is home to healthy populations of brown bears, wolves and lynx, and the most important remaining refuges in Europe for globally threatened sturgeon. Our region also has a rich diversity of languages, cultures and ethnicities. Despite these riches, the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe are less developed than their neighbours to the north and west -- weaker economies, with poor governance, struggling civil society and media, and now also impacted by war in Ukraine. While our countries benefit from membership or proximity to the European Union, they nevertheless face challenges not dissimilar to those of the global South and East.

wwf-cee is unique

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Within our region, we are unique in our ability to offer and implement solutions for nature conservation and sustainability across borders and sectors, linking efforts from local implementation to policy and advocacy at national and even EU levels.

There is no other organization that has this breadth and depth. As the first multi-country, self-governing member of the global WWF network, we are pioneering a model for empowering and embedding WWF presences in smaller countries and markets.

Europe’s last great wilderness areas, home to over half of European populations of brown bear, wolves and lynx.

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our purpose

We are here to save the globally important forests, rivers, wetlands and species in the "Green Heart of Europe".

our vision

The "GREEN HEART OF EUROPE" is saved and people live in harmony with nature.

what is needed to achieve this vision?

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The deepening crisis of nature loss requires us to think and act bigger and faster and to work together as never before.

Our strong commitment to collaboration - something we call together possible - shapes our work, leading to powerful partnerships. We are part of a growing coalition calling on national, EU and world leaders to set nature on the path to recovery by 2030: a New Deal for Nature and People as comprehensive as the global climate deal.

This ambitious nature recovery plan is supported by our program of work, which contributes directly to WWF's global goals and program.

As a society, we need to achieve the following goals:

1. Stop the loss of key habitats and species in our region (-> zero loss of habitats and species). 2. Significantly reduce the ecological footprint of our societies (-> halve the ecological footprint).

To achieve this, as enabling conditions, we need broad awareness and engagement for biodiversity and climate change in our region, and to ensure that governance and finance systems are nature-positive, working with and for nature.

In order to maximize WWF-CEE's unique contribution to achieving these goals, we will transform WWF-CEE into a change agent, as both a model and a driver for the change needed.

goal 1

Zero loss of habitats & species

Stop the loss of key habitats and species in our region.

goal 2

Halve the ecological footprint

Significantly reduce the ecological footprint of our societies.

goal 3

Nature-positive finance and governance

Governance and finance systems are working with nature rather than against it.

goal 4

Millions are engaged as active stewards

millions of people in CEE are united in acting and investing in the natural world.

organisational objective:

WWF-CEE is a change agent

rivers and wetlands

what is at stake

Rivers in CEE are in a more natural condition than in other parts of Europe, but navigation, hydropower, gravel extraction and flood/drought infrastructure pose significant threats to freshwater habitats and species such as sturgeon.

80% of floodplains of the Danube and main tributaries have been lost, but there is great potential for restoration. Over 1000 dams dissect larger rivers in the Danube basin, with Innumerable smaller dams on minor waterways.

There is growing awareness and capacity among relevant authorities and other stakeholders related to river and wetland conservation and restoration, but they usually lose out in negotiating with more powerful economic sectors, e.g. agriculture.

bringing the plan to life

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Focus on selected levers and areas of work: the wide range of ambitious outcomes and targets contained in our strategy can only be achieved by building on each other and leveraging key enabling conditions.

Key issues: Freshwater Forests Species Climate

Enabling conditions: Finance and Governance People and Business

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what does success look like (2030)?

1.8 million ha of rivers and floodplains conserved.

3,600 river km conserved and partially restored.

100,000 ha of floodplains and wetlands are in the process of restoration.

WWF Freshwater Restoration Tour

google earth tour


what is at stake

The CEE region is home to many of Europe's most valuable forest areas, including old-growth, pristine and natural forests. They include e.g. a large part of the Ancient Beech Forests World Heritage Site.

365,000 ha of old-growth forests have been identified and all but 45,000 ha are protected, much of them in private and municipal ownership. Biodiversity-rich forests remain without sustainable management while we struggle to maintain and improve the status of 9.5 million hectares of forests under FSC.

Illegal logging threatens the integrity of biodiversity-rich forests (e.g. in Bulgaria an estimated 40% of logged wood is illegally harvested).

sturgeon, bison and
large carnivores

what is at stake

Sturgeon – a WWF global conservation priority – are the most threatened group of species in the world. The Danube hosts Europe’s last remaining viable populations of wild sturgeon. However, of six Danube sturgeon species, two have gone extinct over the past decades.

European bison play important roles in forest ecosystems, but they were almost hunted to extinction – in the 1920s, only about 50 survived, all of them in captivity. Thanks to determined conservation efforts, they now number over 6,800, including ca 550 in Romania and Ukraine.

CEE countries are home to the largest remaining populations of large carnivores in Europe outside of Russia, including ca 9,000 bears, 4,600 wolves and 2,200 lynx. However, there is growing pressure from changes in land-use, poaching and infrastructure development.

what does success look like (2030)?

All old-growth forests are protected (365,000 ha).

Substantial expansion of forests under conservation management.

Illegal logging is not a significant threat.

what does success look like (2030)?

Poaching pressure and human-wildlife conflicts are minimised.

500 bison roam the wild areas we help manage.

The downward trend of sturgeon populations is stopped. CEE contributes to the Global Sturgeon Initiative.

Large infrastructure projects are designed to maintain landscape connectivity.


Current status and key drivers:

The CEE countries have a relatively low efficiency of energy use with a high dependence on nuclear, coal and oil and relatively low penetration of renewable energy sources.

CEE countries are obligated to produce National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP), Long Term Decarbonization Strategies, and to allocate 30% of EU Funds to climate action.

enabling conditions:
finance & governance

what is at stake

Investments in nature conservation, nature-based solutions and climate action are urgently needed. EU funds, promoted by the EU Green Deal, are the key source of such support in the CEE region and also influence other public sector and private sector investment.

Wildlife and forest crime threaten the integrity of biodiversity rich forests and the populations of threatened iconic animal species. Wildlife connectivity is going down, driven by unsustainable infrastructure projects.

what does success look like (2030)?

CEE countries are on track to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Biodiversity safeguards for renewable energy are enforced.

Forest management standards promote naturalness for climate resilience.

Nature-based climate solutions are favoured by governmental and private investors.

what does success look like (2030)?

40% of EU funds are allocated to biodiversity and climate spending in CEE EU countries, including €5 billion for investments recommended by WWF.

Do No Significant Harm guidelines and biodiversity safeguards are applied for major highway and navigation projects.

Wildlife crime is recognized as serious crime in all CEE countries and is consistently investigated.

enabling conditions:
people & business

Engaging people is vital to our success

Directly, individuals support our work as actors, volunteers and donors. Indirectly, they support our influence and positioning vis-a-vis public and private sector decision-makers.

The focus of our corporate engagement to date has been primarily on fundraising; in future, we seek to engage companies in addressing selected sustainability challenges, both within their own operations and supply chains as well as through advocacy and outreach.

focusing our efforts

On bringing it together geographically around landscapes and priority conservation areas. This approach (area-based Conservation) will enable us to draw synergies across interventions and leverage partnerships more effectively.

what does success look like (2030)?

With our support, millions of people in CEE are united in action as citizens, donors, activists and consumers for the natural world.

We have created an active youth community on a regional level, and empowered youth to take action for their nature positive future.

2025: WWF-CEE is playing a leading role in raising awareness and moving a growing number of corporations to take action for nature. Our partnerships are demonstrating nature-positive and climate-positive solutions and supporting WWF’s priorities.


landscapes: examples

We are working in over 10 landscapes across our region. This is where much of our work comes together, with a scope to demonstrate and realise synergies from integrated solutions and leverage the benefits of cross-sectoral cooperation.

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"build back better"

ukraine: "build back better" initiative

At the time of writing in April 2022, the war in Ukraine has gone on for 6 weeks, with no end in sight. Already, the war has caused immense human suffering and massive destruction not only of homes and infrastructure, but also to the environment.

We have responded to the war first by ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our Ukrainian colleagues and monitoring and communicating the impacts of the war on the environment. Going forward, we are focusing on a more positive future –seeking to respond to the unmitigated disaster of this unnecessary war to “build back better”, nature- and climate- positive.

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Pioneering WWF-CEE

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Numbers and data

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key risks and

Monitoring and

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the difference
that we'll make

For nature and people

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what is success?


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