© Troy Fleece/WWF
Communities and Indigenous Peoples

Communities and indigenous peoples at the centre of conservation success

Through our years of work, we know that conservation and indigeneous people can work in harmony and approaches designed together 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 ensure the needs and aspirations of the indigenous and local communities are a foundation on which our conservation programmes are built. 

© Emmanuel Rondeau / WWF-US

Indigenous peoples and local communities have made enormous contributions to the maintenance of some of the Earth’s most fragile ecosystems. Today they are challenged by many of the same forces that threaten nature, such as pressures from extractive industries and infrastructure development. Climate change and other global trends are likely to accelerate the loss of the natural habitats and resources upon which they depend.


Through our years of work, we know that conservation approaches designed with communities and indigenous peoples can help mitigate any negative social impacts while providing lasting incentives – and benefits – for sustainable management of natural resources.


In many places we work directly with communities and indigenous peoples to support them to manage the natural resources they depend on and protect those resources against emerging threats, in a way that’s good for people and nature alike.


That might mean supporting efforts by local communities to secure access to clean energy, so there’s less of a need to cut down wildlife-rich forests for fuel. Or helping train smallholder farmers on sustainable farming practices that improve their yields while reducing impacts on vital rivers. Or ensuring communities are benefitting directly from tourists coming to see endangered wildlife.  


We also offer support on influencing relevant policy and promoting community participation in decision-making processes in country in line with national legal frameworks. 


Respecting the right of Indigenous Peoples and local communities

Previously referred to as WWF’s Social Policies, our Statements of Principles encapsulate our social commitments to respect and promote human rights, foster gender equality, and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. These Statements of Principles apply in relation to all activities that we undertake, including policy advocacy, research, partnerships and communications, while also respecting national laws and the role of the state.

For place-based work that WWF undertakes within landscapes and seascapes, the Statements of Principles are implemented through our Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework.

Principles and Safeguards