What is our planet up against?

WWF’s priority places and species face a range of direct and indirect threats.

These include Our conservation work addresses these threats directly. But that is not the end of the story...


Tackling the drivers behind the threats

However, adressing the threats alone is not enough to conserve biodiversity and reduce humanity’s ecological footprint.

We also need to tackle the drivers behind the threats...  the social, economic, and political reasons why these threats exist in the first place.

There are many such drivers. And they are complex. And they are interlinked.

There are 5 (listed below) that are particularly relevant at the global level to natural resource overexploitation, pollution, and climate change. 

It is these 5 that play a vital role in achieving WWF’s twin goals of
  1. conserving biodiversity and
  2. reducing humanity’s ecological footprint.


Drivers in action
It’s easy to see how, for example, a huge tourism resort could threaten an as yet undeveloped coastline, or how poaching is a threat to tigers.

WWF and many other groups have had much success in conserving particular places and species by fighting inappropriate and even illegal developments and activities such as these.

But to ensure long-term biodiversity conservation and sustainable footprints, we need to go to the root of the threat: the factors that currently favour or allow damaging or unsustainable activities.

In the case of the resort, for example,
  • Is the local or national government prioritizing short-term economic development at the expense of long-term, sustainable development?
  • Will tomorrow’s tourists prefer mass tourism over more eco-friendly options?
  • Are investors supporting the resort for short-term profits?
  • Are national laws not strong enough to protect important natural areas?
  • Do tour operators not have adequate standards to ensure their activities are not damaging the environment?
These are the ultimate drivers which need to be addressed so that developments and activities are routinely carried out in a sustainable manner in appropriate places – and we no longer need to fight individual battles.

2050 Footprint Goal

By 2050, humanity’s global footprint stays within the Earth’s capacity to sustain life and the natural resources of our planet are shared equitably

2050 Biodiversity Goal

By 2050, the integrity of the most outstanding natural places on Earth is conserved, contributing to a more secure and sustainable future for all

Laws and regulations

The national and international laws, policies, and frameworks relating to e.g., water, wildlife, forestry, fisheries, land use, poverty, development, agriculture, energy, and CO2 emissions.

Why is this a driver?
Such laws, policies, and frameworks have a great deal of influence on the chance of conservation success.

Public sector finance

The funding to environmental and development issues that is under governmental control e.g., through government budgets, multilateral banks, national and regional development banks, international aid, subsidy and sector support.

Why is this a driver?
Such funding influences where and how resources are committed and the degree to which environmental concerns are considered.

Consumption choices & beliefs and attitudes towards nature

Why is this a driver?
What we choose do and belive has enormous impacts. Whether we choose sustainably sourced products, environmentally friendly transport options, or green energy.  The effects of our cultural food preferences on the environment; the way we treat our natural places, and our attitudes to human-wildlife conflict.

Business practices

The standards, guidelines, and ethics of businesses working in sectors that affect the environment, such as agriculture, fisheries, timber, pulp and paper, water, mining, and energy.

Why is this a driver?
Without environmentally-appropriate standards, businesses and industries working in these sectors are likely to increase biodiversity loss and humanity’s ecological footprint.

Private sector finance

The funding to environmental and development issues that is under private control, e.g., through private banks, superannuation funds, insurance funds, and investors in business and industry.

Why is this a driver?
Such funding influences development, business and industry, technology transfer, and a range of other sectors that can have an adverse environmental impact.
By understanding and engaging with the key actors behind these drivers – the organizations, businesses, communities, and individuals – we will be able to better target our strategies and actions, our expertise, and make the most of your investments in our abilities.

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