Human rights | WWF
© Frans Schepers/WWF

Human Rights

Human Rights and Conservation

International human rights legal instruments and standards are a core principle guiding WWF's programmes.The inherent dignity of each person, principle of equality and non-discrimination and the indivisibility and interdependence of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights guide our work with indigenous peoples, local communities and governments alike.

WWF works to improve our conservation efforts by promoting
the integration of human rights in conservation policy and practice.
We do so, in part, by working within the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR), a group of international conservation non-governmental organizations.

CIHR members aim to promote positive links between conservation and rights of people to secure their livelihoods, enjoy healthy and productive environments and live with dignity. WWF believes that by working collectively and sharing information we can better advance our work in this field. Other partners in this initiative are Birdlife International, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, IUCN, The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Our Policy

Learn about our Policy on Human Rights.

Village elders at the Gift to the Earth Ceremony, Sakoantovo, Madagascar.

© Richard Hamilton/WWF


Environmental human rights

There are different sets of existing human rights closely related to the environment.

► Human Right to a healthy environment

The human right to a healthy (or satisfactory, safe, or sustainable) environment is referenced in numerous national constitutions and regional conventions, as well as recognized by the UN human rights bodies, which agree that environmental sustainability is vital to long-term human development within the planetary boundaries.

► Human Rights vulnerable to environmental harm (substantive rights)

Human rights such as the right to life, to health, to property, to water, to an adequate standard of living, the right to food and housing, the right to work and to practice one’s culture, are vulnerable to environmental degradation and environmental sustainability is often a precondition to their realisation.

► Human Rights vital to environmental policy-making (procedural rights)

Human rights affecting environmental policy-making and natural resource management, called procedural rights, enable individuals, groups and CSOs to participate in decision-making, providing them with access to information, judicial remedies and political processes and facilitating the realization of other rights.

Those human rights include the right to freedom of expression and association, to information and participation in decision-making processes and the right to access to justice.