© Karine Aigner/WWF-US
WWF’s work and human rights
WWF is committed to respecting and promoting human rights in all our conservation work. We recognise that human rights are central to achieving effective, equal, and long-lasting conservation and development outcomes.

WWF and The Conservation Initiative on Human Rights

WWF is a founding member of the Conservation and Human Rights Initiative (CIHR). Including WWF, there are seven members of this Initiative: Birdlife International, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, IUCN, The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Across these seven organisations, we work in more than 120 countries around the world, partnering with thousands of indigenous peoples, local communities, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, businesses and universities. Through these partnerships, we aim to ensure that any impacts that our conservation work has on people are guided by a set of common principles, which are outlined below as part of our Conservation and Human Rights Framework.

Music to our ears by WWF on Exposure
© Karine Aigner/WWF-US


WWF’s Conservation and Human Rights Framework


Our commitment to upholding human rights is further supported by our Conservation and Human Rights Framework. This guides the implementation of our conservation programmes and partnerships.

The framework is guided by the following principles:

  • Respect human rights
  • Promote human rights within conservation programmes
  • Protect the vulnerable
  • Encourage good governance


And it contains commitments for us to achieve the following:

  • Further develop these principles and implementation measures in consultation with our constituencies.
  • Establish relevant institutional policies
  • Ensure implementation capacity is in place
  • Address conservation-human rights links in the design, implementation and monitoring of our programmes
  • Establish accountability measures

The conservation initiative on human rights was set out in 2010. Since then, WWF has implemented measures internationally to achieve all of our commitments, and continues to integrate them into our work.

© Emmanuel Rondeau / WWF-US

WWF’s Statement of Principles on Indigenous Peoples and Conservation


Alongside being part of the CIHR and our Conservation and Human Rights Framework, we have a dedicated Statement of Principles on Indigenous Peoples and Conservation, that formally recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples.

Our years of conservation work have shown us that achieving truly sustainable management of natural resources is only possible when we work together with indigenous people. Sea, forest and river have provided for them for countless generations, and they’ve looked after these natural resources in return. The knowledge and experience of indigenous people is invaluable and they are often best placed to steward their environment.

WWF’s Statement of Principles recognises the right of indigenous peoples to control their lands, territories, and resources, and establish management and governance systems that best suit their cultures and social needs. It reflects our dedication to respecting traditional peoples’ and indigenous rights - both human and developmental - and recognizes the importance of conserving their cultures.

WWF’s Safeguards Against Human Rights Abuses in the places we work


Our Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) ensures the rights of people are promoted through a set of Standards that underpin the framework outlined above.

Safeguards are designed to manage risks, uphold human rights, and ensure conservation projects deliver better outcomes for communities and nature, as well as providing access to grievance mechanisms for the people and communities should any issues or abuses arise.

Read more about our Environmental and Social Safeguards here.