WWF Office of the Ombudsperson Opens Consultation Process

Posted on November, 18 2022

WWF and its Office of the Ombudsperson today announced the launch of a public consultation on the Office’s proposed operating framework. Created and developed over the last 12 months, in targeted consultation with local communities and other stakeholders, the operating framework seeks to establish a clear mandate for the Office to address environmental and social concerns, enhance the embedding of human rights in WWF activities, and strengthen WWF’s collaborative problem-solving capabilities.

The public consultation, which will run for four weeks until 16 December 2022, will assess potential challenges not already identified and which may be faced in implementing the Office of the Ombudsperson’s operating framework. During the public consultation a range of discussions will be held, including with: (i) local communities; (ii) civil society organisations and NGOs working in the accountability, human rights and conservation spaces; (iii) WWF staff across the network; and (iv) relevant stakeholders including WWF partner agencies. Anyone interested in contributing their perspective is invited to complete the online survey which can be found here.

Gina Barbieri, WWF Ombudsperson for the global conservation network, said: “Development of the proposed operating framework has benefitted from deep and targeted engagements with community members, WWF staff and senior advisors over the last 12 months. It is now important to broaden our engagement to a wider audience so that we can assure ourselves that the model being developed is fit for purpose and in line with international best practice on establishing effective grievance mechanisms.”

The Office of the Ombudsperson reports directly to the President of WWF International with support from the International Board subcommittee and has complete independence from the executive both from a reporting and budgetary perspective. The first of its kind in the conservation sector, the Office has been created to help WWF strengthen its programmatic work by creating a new channel for communities to have a say in projects which may affect them.

Under the proposed operating framework, communities will have the choice to raise their concerns directly to the Office of the Ombudsperson. Complaints from community members can also be lodged through national operational grievance mechanisms.

Kirsten Schuyt, CEO, WWF-Netherlands and Action Plan network lead said: “Consulting on the operating framework for the Office of the Ombudsperson is a very important step for the WWF Network as we seek to further strengthen our conservation work with local communities and Indigenous People. As a conservation organisation working to protect and restore nature for the benefit of people and the planet, a strong and independent accountability system to capture community concerns is absolutely critical."

All contributions received during the public consultation will be carefully considered by WWF and the Office of the Ombudsperson. A finalised operating framework will be published following any further revisions, after which time the Office of the Ombudsperson will be operationalised to receive any complaints from affected communities. Find more background information on the WWF Office of the Ombudsperson here, and the proposed operating framework here.