People and conservation | WWF
We depend on the natural world. Species conservation, protecting habitats and keeping our climate and environment healthy is good for all of us.

But with growing global demand consuming more resources than the planet can sustain, that equilibrium has been thrown out of balance. While it’s the pressure that human activities put on nature that is the biggest threat, it’s also people who hold the solutions.

We work with people all over the world, from the local to the global level, to take action for nature – because looking after our one and only planet is in everyone’s interests.

© Karine Aigner/WWF-US

Sustaining our relationship with nature

 

Growing pressures from mining, infrastructure development, oil and gas exploration, agroindustry and industrial logging threaten ecosystem health the world over. And when nature suffers, so too do the people closest to it - indigenous peoples’ ancestral and sacred lands are degraded, overfishing leaves coastal communities struggling to support their families and climate change, water shortages and soil erosion mean smallholders’ crops fail and with it, their primary source of food and livelihoods.

 

Communities closely reliant on the natural environment for their livelihoods and well-being feel the brunt of environmental damage most directly. Over the past 60 years we have found that conservation efforts benefit most when people benefit from conservation. Some of WWF's most important conservation successes have come from working directly with local and indigenous communities, finding practical ways for people and nature to thrive together. 

And, for many indigenous peoples and local communities around the world, that’s the way it’s always been. Land and sea, forest and river have provided for them for countless generations – and they’ve looked after these things in return, meaning they are very often the best placed to steward their environment.

 

We need more ambitious sustainable governance of our natural resources to ensure that we deliver healthy ecosystems into the hands of our children and generations beyond. This means working at different levels: from global policy agreements, public and private financial investment and market standards to national and local level decision-making for sustainable development.

 

Responsible forest management in Tanzania

Discover the sucess of a scheme in Kilwa, Tanzania, that has put the management of forests into the hands of people best suited to protect them – local communities.

Find out more

Conservation success stories from Nepal

This selection of stories from Nepal showcases a number of conservation successes all made possible through partnerships with government, conservation agencies and local communities. 

Discover the projects

© Luis Barreto / WWF-UK
Learn more about our people and conservation work

Communities & Indigenous Peoples

Through our years of work, we know that conservation approaches designed with communities and indigenous peoples creates sustainable management of natural resources. Understanding the links between local people and their environment allows us to identify, avoid and mitigate the social and environmental risks of our work, and most importantly use the needs and aspirations of the indigenous and local communities as a foundation on which our conservation programmes are built. 

 

Civil society organisations

Civil society organisations (CSO’s) are key partners for WWF and we work around the world to help build local CSO capacity and strength to ensure accountability and sustainability of natural resource management, inclusive socio-economic development and equitable cost and benefit sharing. The challenges facing our planet and its people are multifold and we welcome partnerships and dialogue with other civil society actors to create greater collective impact.

 

Advancing Safeguards and Social Policies

An Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (E&S) and four social policies outline a set of key commitments made by WWF. The social policies apply to all WWF activities. The E&S safeguards are applied to our field operations in the landscapes and seascapes where we work. WWF's principles underpin our social policies and are intended to strengthen the social dimensions our our projects and our conservation results.
 

Social Development & Safeguards experts

Our Social Development and Safeguards ambitions are owned by a global team across the WWF network who promote sustainable development solutions both within WWF and with our partners. The team of professionals bring decades of experience to our work with people and communities, and are all united by a strong commitment to practice inclusive conservation.