Posted on 22 March 2019
UPDATE July 2019: The independent panel of experts has updated its Statement of Objectives and Terms of Reference replacing the content shared below.
The updated Statement of Objectives is available here
This Statement of Objectives shall govern the work of the Independent Panel of Experts to be established by the Sub-Committee of the International Board of WWF to respond to the recent allegations raised in the media regarding human rights violations in the context of WWF’s conservation work.
As a global leader in conservation, partnering with local communities and indigenous people is at the heart of WWF’s mission to create a future where both people and nature thrive. Human rights abuses are unacceptable and can never be justified in the name of conservation.
WWF is taking the allegations seriously and is committed to the full exploration of the issues that have been raised. The Independent Review will assess and evaluate the strength of the allegations, including WWF’s measures to prevent any inappropriate conduct of the type raised in the allegations and the suitability and appropriateness of WWF‘s broader policies, procedures, and assurances and risk management processes in the context of the allegations.
: A third-party review of the recent allegations (series of articles by BuzzFeed News and Kathmandu Post; "the Allegations“). The Independent Review shall comprise the following:
“Independent Panel of Experts” or “the Panel”:
- a fact-finding process or investigation that will be conducted by an independent firm/-s or entity/-ies (“Review Team”),
- an evaluation and assessment of the outcome of the Review Team’s investigation by an Independent Panel of Experts that will provide its conclusions and recommendations to WWF, and
- advice on future approaches to spatial conservation, based on the Panel's recognised collective expertise in human rights, development and conservation.
High-level individuals with recognised collective expertise in human rights, development and conservation who are appointed by the Sub-Committee of the International Board and who have confirmed their willingness to participate in the Independent Review.
Principles of Participation
Independence and Disclosure.
Panel members must be independent and in a position to make unbiased judgements. A Panel member shall disclose to the Sub-Committee any circumstances, which might be deemed to affect his/her impartiality or independence. A Panel member who becomes aware, during the course of the investigation, of any circumstances which may disqualify him/her or expose him/her to a conflict of interest must immediately inform the Sub-Committee.
Payment and expenses.
Panel members may receive reasonable compensation for their efforts.
In the interest of a due process of the Independent Review and to ensure compliance with applicable laws, the work of the Panel is subject to confidentiality. The Independent Panel of Experts will keep confidential all information to which it gained access whilst performing the agreed assignment and will not disclose details about its work, including its findings and conclusions, without the prior approval of the Sub-Committee.
Guiding Principles for Panel and Independent Review
The Independent Panel of Experts shall be guided in its work by the principles of independence, integrity, objectivity and transparency. Those principles shall also govern the Independent Review.
The Independent Panel of Experts shall be committed to complete its work in a diligent, efficient, and timely manner.
The Independent Panel of Experts shall
Publication of Results
- support WWF in its commitment to review, examine and assess WWF‘s role in connection with the Allegations,
- propose to WWF suitable measures, procedures and processes to prevent similar allegations and occurrences in the future, including a review and examination of the presence and effectiveness of WWF broader policies and procedures, project governance, and assurance and risk management processes in the context of the Allegations, and
- advise on future approaches to spatial conservation, based on the Panel's recognised collective expertise in human rights, development and conservation.
The results of the Independent Review will be made public.