2002: Large-scale initiative to save the Amazon
With the world’s largest tropical forest facing massive deforestation threats, WWF worked with the government of Brazil and other partners to launch a 10-year initiative to preserve 12%, or 60 million ha, of the Brazilian Amazon. The world’s largest in situ conservation effort, ARPA (Amazon Region Protected Area) has already created more than 30 million ha of protected areas, improved management in 62 existing protected areas, and established a US$29 million conservation fund. This and similar efforts in other Amazon countries, including extensive work prior to 2002, mean that over 80% of the Amazon’s original forest is still largely intact. However, continued and increasing threats – particularly unsustainable cattle ranching and agricultural expansion – led WWF to launch Living Amazon Initiative in 2007. Carried out in partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders, this 10- year initiative aims to conserve the entire Amazon Basin through a combination of good governance, clear land tenure, sustainable commodity production, forest-friendly infrastructure development, and biodiversity conservation.
2003: Showing the economic value of nature
A WWF report estimated that coral reefs provide nearly US$30 billion in net benefits each year through their provision of goods and services to world economies, including tourism, fisheries and coastal protection. Subsequent reports looked at the value of other ecosystems to human societies: forest areas were shown to provide a cost-effective means for supplying high-quality drinking water to many of the world’s biggest cities, while the annual economic value of the world's wetlands was estimated at US$3.4 billion through their provision of food, freshwater, building materials, water treatment services and erosion control services. Such research has made a vital contribution to convincing governments and local communities of the true value of ecosystems and species. It has also boosted the development of payments for ecosystem services, where local people are compensated for the maintaining and managing natural habitats.
2008: Certified sustainable palm oil enters the market
Building on the success of the FSC and MSC, in 2004 WWF, other NGOs and the palm oil industry set up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to develop standards and a certification scheme for sustainable palm oil – a key agricultural commodity whose enormously expanded production over the last few decades has come at the expense of vast areas of tropical rainforest. In 2010, just two years after it became operational, about 6.4% of global palm oil production was RSPO certified – a level of market penetration that took the FSC and MSC over a decade to achieve. WWF’s work on palm oil forms part of its efforts to transform 15 key global commodity markets towards sustainability, including soy, cotton, beef and farmed shrimp. In addition to helping develop sustainable production practices and standards, WWF is also working to ensure that the main companies buying these commodities implement sustainable sourcing policies.
2009: Securing a future for the world’s richest marine hotspot
In May 2009, the leaders of 6 nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste – committed to a comprehensive plan to conserve and sustainably manage coastal and marine resources within the Coral Triangle region, a vast area hosting 76% of the world’s coral species and the world's largest tuna fisheries. Incorporating WWF’s goals for the Coral Triangle, the plan aims, amongst other things, to establish a region-wide network of marine protected areas, achieve an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, improve income, livelihoods and food security for coastal communities, ensure sustainable exploitation of shared tuna stocks, and implement climate adaptation strategies. WWF is now working to help implement the plan, as well as build momentum for change in fisheries capture, trade and purchase practices through new partnerships and coalitions.
2010: The world’s largest environmental activism event
As part of its advocacy work, WWF harnesses the tremendous voice of its supporters to demonstrate widespread public support for WWF’s goals and apply crucial pressure on key decision-makers. Earth Hour – in which people, buildings, landmarks and entire cities switch off their lights for one hour to demonstrate support for action on climate change – has become the biggest such platform. The first Earth Hour in 2007 involved 2.2 million homes and businesses in Sydney, Australia; just 3 years later, hundreds of millions of people around the globe joined Earth Hour 2010, which reached about one in 6 people on the planet. WWF is using this unprecedented show of support as part of its efforts to convince politicians, governments and world leaders to secure an effective successor to the Kyoto Protocol and start making the necessary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.