On 29 April, 2021, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is celebrating its 60th anniversary. At the same time, people around the world are experiencing the impacts of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and are now living cautiously under a “new normal” lifestyle, switching from work which requires travel and in-person meetings to a “work from home” approach in order to stop the spread of the virus during this time of uncertainty.
WWF hopes that this global public health crisis throughout the past two years will help change human attitudes towards nature. Marco Lambertini, Director of WWF-International, is taking the occasion of the organization’s 60th anniversary to call upon everyone to consider the COVID-19 situation as a crucial turning point in rebalancing the relationship between humans and nature to prevent ecological collapse.
With this, the WWF Living Planet Report, which is published every two years, emphasises the loss of natural resources and habitats caused by human population growth and unsustainable economic development. The report reveals that two-thirds of mammal, bird, fish, reptile and amphibian populations worldwide have disappeared within just the past 50 years. This is the fastest rate of wildlife loss in millions of years. This loss of biodiversity has severe negative impacts towards food production systems and freshwater sources, which will eventually damage human health.
From 60 years of experience in conservation work, WWF has proven that there is nothing humans cannot do when working together. In the past, close collaboration between WWF and various stakeholders — who have each brought to the table their own strengths and skillsets to help give voice to wildlife and nature — has countlessly helped saved wildlife species from endangerment and even extinction.
The mission to protect ‘home’ cannot be done alone
Only few images can showcase the success that has been achieved through the collaboration of WWF and various organizations, educational institutions, conservation scientists, national park rangers, local communities, governments, policymakers, lawyers, businesses, press and artists from all corners of the world. Since 1961, the year which WWF registered to become an international NGO, we all have joined forced to make the world a home where all life on Earth can live together peacefully and sustainably.
WWF’s work first began with conservation programmes and conducting research on endangered wildlife species in forests around the world, from setting up a research centre in the Galapagos Islands and establishing measures on commercial whale hunting, to working with the Chinese government in giant panda conservation, protecting the Amazon rainforest and hosting the Earth Hour campaign which still goes on to this day.
But as the ecological crisis exacerbates, WWF is expanding its boundaries to take on new environmental challenges, such as through marine plastic pollution management, sustainable fisheries, freshwater conservation, sustainable consumption and production, as well as sustainable finance to support banks in carrying operations with social and environmental responsibility, considering ESG (Environment; Social; Governance) as a driver in creating a sustainable economy.
“WWF’s strategy does not try to divide humans from nature, or reverse us back to the stone age, or reject a country’s economic development. Instead, WWF strives to find practical solutions in sustainably protecting nature and conserving its biodiversity while alleviating impacts of human activity. Even though WWF is not 60 years old, we still have more conservation missions to do. Because even though all living species are inhabiting the same house, only we can design the future. Thus, WWF wishes to see everyone help restore this planet we call home,” said Phimphawadee Phaholyothin, CEO of WWF-Thailand.
WWF’s work and advocacy are based on scientific data which can be proven. This has helped conservationists in increasingly accessing credible information sufficient to advance their work. One of the well-wishers is Dr. Pinsak Suraswadee, inspector-general of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, who has worked closely with WWF for the past three decades.
“Since I began working in conservation 30 years ago, I’ve had WWF as an information source to study until I started working in Department of Fisheries and Department of Marine Resources. Ten to 20 years ago, WWF was a source of learning to me. Today, now that I’ve had the opportunity to become the director of an organisation, WWF now plays the role of an important partner who always supports the government sector in environmental conservation. I’d like to thank WWF for being a friend throughout my conservation journey.”
Meanwhile, Santana Chatnakrob, Corporate Relations Manager at Nestle Thailand, the sponsor for conservation work in the Youth Water Guardians programme in Ayutthaya province, admitted the challenges in creating awareness about freshwater conservation, but believed that knowledge, scientific data and collaboration with WWF has helped the programme smoothly continue to its sixth year.
“This campaign to increase environmental awareness and instill sustainable behaviors is not an easy feat, but WWF has succeeded beautifully with knowledge, skill, experience and dedication throughout the six years of the Youth Water Guardians programme. We’re not only seeing the restoration of water quality, shrimps, molluscs and fish, but also the change of attitude towards conservation systematically among youth and the community of Klong Kanom Chin.”
Our responsibility to protect our home for the next generation
Instilling the conservationist heart is a mission that starts from the family. Jay Spencer, WWF-Thailand’s brand ambassador, gives importance to instilling compassion to animals and care for nature, starting in the family and among friends to then expand beyond to the community scale. “As a father of two, my goal is to teach my children to love animals, be curious about the ecosystem and understand the value of nature.”
One of WWF’s activities throughout the past 60 years, which continues to be its main conservation mission in the next coming years, is making wildlife conservation and environmental work a public matter, especially as a movement by the new generation. BigM – Krittarit Butprom, model and actor who has been selected as Thailand’s first Panda Best Buddy in April 2021, has volunteered to encourage more youth into conservation.
“Even though we may not be able to restore some things or replace them, I believe that the power and movement of young people like us can help conserve the wild plants and animals which still exist today to continue thriving. It’s not just me or my fan club—I want all citizens and younger generation to help conserve more, so we can continue to become the driving force of this conservation movement.”
WWF approaches conservation with a combination of scientific knowledge and the ingenuity of local communities, making it one of the world’s largest wildlife conservation organizations with more than 1,300 programmes achieved in 100 countries and over 35 million supporters worldwide. In the next 60 years, WWF will continue to walk forward to improve the relationship between human and nature, in order to create a world where we can nature can live together harmoniously with the cooperation with all sectors, because WWF believes that #TogetherWeCan.