Education matters

Posted on 11 April 2011

When people understand their connection to the natural world, they’re inspired to act
When people understand their connection to the natural world, they’re inspired to act

Do you switch off your computer so you don’t waste energy?

Buy responsibly sourced fish or wood?

Recycle your rubbish?

We hope so. Maybe you used to forget sometimes, but now it’s just habit. We do these things because we’ve learned about the threats facing our environment, and ultimately, ourselves. And we know it makes sense.

One of WWF’s greatest achievements over the last 50 years is building environmental awareness around the world among hundreds of millions of people. 

We hope what you learn on this site inspires you, too.

What’s at stake?

Climate change. Destruction of habitats at land and sea. Endangered species.

The natural world faces many interconnected threats. Threats so severe that we need everyone on board to fight them.

Education is the first step to changing people’s attitudes. The first step toward our vision of a future where human beings live in harmony with nature.

Training is also essential to build the ability of governments, companies and communities to manage resources such as water and forests sustainably.

The story so far

We’re educating and training people all over the world to save our planet.

Throughout the world, WWF offices run education programmes, in countries including Madagascar and India, Switzerland and Netherlands, the UK and the USA, Brazil, South Africa and China. These programmes have reached hundreds of millions of children and often, through them, their parents and other family members.

In some countries, WWF’s education initiatives have been incorporated into the national school curriculum. In China, WWF’s education for sustainability programme was carried in almost 600,000 schools, reaching almost 200 million children.

Many of the park rangers and wildlife managers who look after African protected areas have come through WWF’s Mweka Wildlife Management College in Tanzania. Since 1963, more than 4,000 people from over 50 countries have graduated from the college and have gone on to spread the conservation message.

We run scholarships for talented conservationists of the future who need a helping hand. Since 1994, 1,400 people have benefited from our Russell E. Train Scholarships, which fund postgraduate and doctoral studies in conservation.

Our Prince Bernhard Scholarships have supported 267 people from the developing world to study conservation across a range of disciplines – from environmental law, journalism and government, to field studies, development and protected area management.

The scheme celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2011 – as does our partnership with Strathclyde University, which has created an international team of over 300 environmental educators. They’ve led environmental education programmes in government departments in several developing countries and have worked on the ground with communities to come up with solutions to conservation problems.

Throughout the WWF network, each year we mobilize hundreds of volunteers with schemes operating in countries including Australia, Canada, China, India and the Netherlands, as well as WWF International. More and more young people are realizing the need to get involved and take action: we’re motivating them and teaching them how they can make a difference.

Did you know?

WWF has produced several musicals for schools, covering issues ranging from rainforest destruction to the coffee trade. They’ve been performed by thousands of people throughout the world.

Facts and stats

  • 80% – proportion of scouts who work toward the World Conservation Badge
  • 2,500 – graduates of our Mweka Wildlife Management College in Tanzania
  • 60 – countries where WWF has funded Prince Bernhard scholarships

What next?

Children see the need to change the careless and wasteful way we treat the world and our natural environment. They’re among the first to join WWF campaigns such as Earth Hour to get involved to change things for the better. They realize that protecting the natural world is about securing their future. We’re working with young people around the world to help prepare and inspire them for the challenges ahead.

In 1973, we developed a worldwide conservation programme for Scouts. Now, 80% of the world’s 30 million Scouts, from 30 countries, are working toward the World Conservation Badge.

In the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to endangered mountain gorillas, more than 800 primary school children in 13 schools are learning to plant and look after trees in a project supported by WWF Netherlands. They’ve already produced thousands of seedlings, and we’re hoping to extend the project to 100 schools, reaching tens of thousands of children, their parents and teachers.

What you can do

From stopping catastrophic climate change to saving endangered species, WWF works in hundreds of different ways to save the planet. Learn what we do and how you can help at

Join the myWWF Action Center
Be part of a global community of activists ready to take simple online actions that can help save wildlife and people. Sign up today!


Three Khmer boys reading fish conservation book. On the banks of the Tonle Sap River, Cambodia.
© Zeb Hogan / WWF
Mweka students observing African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana africana), Tanzania.
© James W. Thorsell / WWF
Alphonse Ngniado, WWF Forest Officer, talking to members of a Baka community forest project, Yenga village, East province, Cameroon.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK