Kirsten Schuijt

2023 -

WWF International's new Director General, Kirsten Schuijt © WWF
Kirsten Schuijt is the Director General (DG) of WWF International based in Gland, Switzerland. Kirsten joined WWF in January 2023 to lead and coordinate the federated global conservation organization, including the teams at the WWF International Secretariat and 34 country offices in Africa, Asia and Europe. She reports to the International Board.

Prior to joining WWF International, Kirsten was CEO of WWF-Netherlands for over six years; transforming the organization into a highly influential, data-driven conservation organization with a strong focus on resilient landscapes and societal movement. She was also a member of the executive committee of the WWF Network, the Network Executive Team (NET), for over six years.

Kirsten has extensive experience in conservation and leading non-profit organizations, having worked in international conservation for twenty-five years, twenty of which in various global conservation leadership positions in WWF. Prior to WWF, she worked in Kenya and Malawi with local communities on wetland conservation. Throughout her conservation career, she has had a particular interest in the relationship between nature and socio-economic systems.

Kirsten sits on several boards, including the Board of Wageningen University in The Netherlands. She holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences with the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and a Masters Degree in International Economics of the University of Maastricht.


2014 - 2022

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International © WWF
Marco Lambertini became Director General of WWF International in April 2014, to drive the achievement of the global conservation organization’s critical mission to save life on Earth and to lead the secretariat team based in Gland, Switzerland.

With 35 years of conservation leadership, Marco Lambertini began his association with WWF as a youth volunteer growing up in his native Italy. Prior to joining WWF, he served as Chief Executive of BirdLife International. That role saw him broaden BirdLife’s global reach and relevance, and develop decentralized structures for most effective global conservation impact. He managed a highly decentralized secretariat, overseeing a global partnership of over 120 civil society organizations based in countries and territories in all continents.

Marco Lambertini has a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Pisa, and has published books ranging from Safari in Africa (Muzzio) to A naturalist’s guide to the Tropics (Chicago University Press).

Highlights from among Marco’s top conservation achievements so far include:
  • Large-scale changes of attitudes and practices regarding nature and wildlife in Italy;
  • The establishment of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the largest marine protected area in Europe; and
  • The Harapan Rainforest initiative in Sumatra, the world’s first forest restoration concession.

James P Leape


WWF International Director General Jim Leape © WWF
Jim has worked in conservation for more than 3 decades.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Jim began his career as an environmental lawyer - bringing environmental protection cases in the United States, advising the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, and co-authoring the leading American text on environmental law.

Jim first joined WWF in the US in 1989, and for 10 years led their conservation programmes around the world, serving as Executive Vice President. In that role, he helped shape the global strategy of the WWF Network and represented WWF in many international fora.

From 2001 to 2005, he directed the conservation and science initiatives of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the US.

Dr Claude Martin


Dr Claude Martin, Director General, WWF International, Gland, Switzerland. © WWF
A Swiss national, Claude Martin was born in Zurich in 1945. His WWF career started in the early 1970s, when he lived in Central India studying the ecology of the threatened barasingha deer in Kanha National Park. From 1975 to 1978 he served as director of several protected areas in the Western Region of Ghana, before becoming director of WWF-Switzerland in 1980. Under his leadership, WWF-Switzerland emerged as one of the strongest of the National Organizations within the WWF Network.

Claude Martin joined WWF International in 1990 as Deputy Director General (Programme). Three years later, in 1993, he was appointed Director General of WWF International. Since then, he has initiated several new approaches in conservation, such as the Target Driven Programmes, as well as partnerships, for example with the World Bank and business/industry groups. He is a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) – a high level advisory body to the Chinese Government – as well as a board member of numerous other environmental bodies.

[Interview, 2005]

Charles de Haes


Charles de Haes , Director General, WWF International. 1975-1993 © WWF
An economist and a lawyer, Charles de Haes was born in Antwerp in 1938. He first became involved in WWF in the early 1970s when asked by International Trustee Anton Rupert to help create “The 1001: A Nature Trust”. Through this, HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands – WWF founder President – and one thousand other influential individuals agreed to each contribute US$10,000 to WWF. This was designed with a view to achieving financial independence for the secretariat.

From 1975, Charles de Haes went on to serve 18 years as Director General, including two and a half years as Joint Director General with his predecessor, Fritz Vollmar. During this time, he helped initiate international fundraising and awareness campaigns, and further develop the WWF network through initiatives such as the partnership with IUCN and UNEP in the World Conservation Strategy, which links conservation and development.

Dr Fritz Vollmar


Dr Fritz Vollmar, Director General WWF International 1962-1978
Born in 1926 in Lenzburg, Switzerland, Fritz Vollmar studied economics, political science and business administration. Prior to joining WWF, he worked in industry, business and administration.

In 1962, Fritz became the first Secretary General of what was then known as the World Wildlife Fund. He was responsible for establishing its international headquarters and secretariat, for building up a network of fundraising national organizations from the "founder members" (Switzerland, UK and USA), and for developing and implementing an international nature conservation programme.

By the time of its 10th anniversary in 1971, WWF had set up 16 national organizations and financed 550 conservation projects in 59 countries. Fritz was then appointed Director General.

When he retired in 1978, WWF had, by then, established national organizations in 26 countries and funded 1882 conservation projects in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Fritz was elected WWF Member of Honour in appreciation of his role in the development of the World Wildlife Fund to become one of the most important global nature conservation organizations.