Archive Content

Please note: This page has been archived and its content may no longer be up-to-date. This version of the page will remain live for reference purposes as we work to update the content across our website.

The 1990s began with the launch of a revised mission and strategy. The expanded mission reiterates WWF's commitment to nature conservation, and classifies the organization's work into three interdependent categories: the preservation of biological diversity, promoting the concept of sustainable use of resources, and reducing wasteful consumption and pollution. The 1990 strategy aims to decentralize WWF's decision-making, and to increase cooperation with local people.

Children at Bachauli school in Chitwan drawing pictures while taking part in Eco Club activities. ... rel= © Simon de TREY-WHITE / WWF-UK

The following year, building on lessons learned in the decade since the launch of the World Conservation Strategy, WWF, IUCN, and UNEP joined forces again to publish Caring for the Earth- A Strategy for Sustainable Living. Launched in over 60 countries around the world, Caring for the Earth lists 132 actions people at all social and political levels can take to safeguard or improve their environment, while simultaneously increasing the quality of their life.

One of the most important ways in which people can help ensure the future health of the planet is to cut down their consumption of fossil fuels. This will reduce the damage that air pollution and acid rain inflict on people, animals, and plants, and slow down the rate at which the world's weather patterns are changing. WWF works to make people and governments aware of the implications of climate change and to persuade them to reduce polluting activities to a minimum.

The organization works with governments in two ways as collaborator and lobbyist. For example, it cooperates with the government of Madagascar on an environmental syllabus for use in the island's primary schools, and with the Chinese Ministry of Forestry on a giant panda management plan.

In 1990, WWF helped bring about an international moratorium on the ivory trade. And in 1992, it played a part in pressurizing governments to sign conventions on biodiversity and climate change at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It is now working to ensure that those conventions are implemented in an effective manner.

Perhaps more than any other event in recent years, the Earth Summit alerted politicians and business people to the urgency of the environmental crisis facing the modern world. Since the conference, WWF has been working to build stronger relationships with the business community. In the UK, for example, WWF is working with a group of retailers and manufacturers who are committed to phasing out the sale of wood that does not come from independently certified, well-managed forests.

WWF also maintains links with other non-governmental organizations both national and international. It makes a particular point of responding to local conservation needs, and working with local people. More and more projects involve rural communities in making decisions as to how their environment should be both used and conserved, while providing economic incentives.

In Zambia's Kafue Flats, WWF has helped the government forge an important link between development and conservation. Local people are trained as wildlife scouts to monitor and report on the area's rapidly declining population of lechwes antelopes adapted to living in swamp-like conditions. Thanks to the scouts, and improved management techniques, lechwe numbers have now increased to a level that permits culling. Trophy hunters pay to hunt animals, and the money raised is reinvested in community development and wildlife management.

WWF has always recognized the importance of working in partnership. Cooperation is crucial whether it is with governments, other conservation organizations, local communities, or with the millions of people whose financial and moral support enables WWF to carry out conservation work throughout the world.

At the end of 1993, Claude Martin took over as Director General of WWF International, replacing Charles de Haes who had served in this position for the previous 18 years. At the same time, the organization completed a two-year network-wide evaluation of its conservation work. On the strength of this study, it resolved to focus its activities on three key areas: forests, freshwater ecosystems, and oceans and coasts. WWF believes that in pursuing the new goals via carefully planned strategies, it will be able to make the best use of its resources.

Contributions from individuals remain the organization's most important source of funds, making up 53 per cent of its annual income. If you care about the welfare of our planet, and the people, animals, and plants that live on it, perhaps you would like to join those who support WWF's conservation work by contacting either the Fundraising Director or the Membership Officer at WWF International or your local WWF National Organization.
Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) portrait of adult. Critically endangered; from South America.

© / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Green tree python Arboreal rainforest species Australia

© © Martin Harvey / WWF

Snow leopard portrait (Panthera uncia)

© /Francois Savigny / WWF

WWF was born into this world in 1961. 
WWF was born into this world in 1961.

The story so far...

From its origins as a small group of committed wildlife enthusiasts, WWF has grown into one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations – supported by 5 million people and active in over 100 countries on five continents.

Over this time, WWF's focus has evolved from localized efforts in favour of single species and individual habitats to an ambitious strategy to preserve biodiversity and achieve sustainable development across the globe.

Read some of the stories of our big wins over the past 50 years...