People and Conservation

In a world with more than seven billion people, environment and development are closely interlinked.

Many of the world’s ecosystems and areas of high biodiversity under threat are also home to rural communities and indigenous peoples, whose livelihoods and cultures are closely dependent on the natural environment.

A growing human population, combined with resource-intensive, wasteful consumption and production patterns, are putting unsustainable pressure on the natural environment and the services it provides. Loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation tend to affect the poorest communities more directly, increasing their vulnerability.

Today we face the challenge of effectively and fairly managing competing human demands on land, water, soil and habitats without undermining crucial ecosystem functions and the sources of livelihoods for millions of peoples. Much of the success of our work depends on the degree to which conservation contributes not only to the maintenance and preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems but also to equitable and sustainable development for the well-being of the women and men that rely on them.

Local communities as well as responsible trade and investments and good environmental governance are key to ensuring the responsible management of the natural capital upon which we all depend. This is why WWF is working to integrate social equity into our programmes in the field and in our policy work at national, regional and global level.

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Follow the menu on the right side or click on the links below to read about our different workstreamsour principles, the WWF Social Policies and about our global team.

Chief Anyaoku, WWF President 2002-2009

In so many of WWF’s priority places – places rich in biodiversity – we see people living in poverty, struggling to feed their families and make a dignified living. We also see people suffering the consequences of environmental degradation – whether it be in related natural disasters or increasingly from the effects of climatic change. 
The links between poverty and the environment are clear.

WWF's Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework

​Safeguards play a vital role in achieving WWF’s vision. They guide how we engage local communities to plan and manage our work to improve and protect their lives, rights and livelihoods while conserving nature and wildlife.

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Some Numbers

Vegetable market in small village. Kerinci region, Sumatra, Indonesia. 
© Mauri Rautkari / WWF

♦ 80% of the world’s undernourished people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods

♦ 75% of the world’s poorest households depend directly on subsistence farming or fishing

♦ 350 million people depend on forests for their livelihoods

♦ 45% of the global workforce is employed in the agricultural sector

♦ 200 million people are directly or indirectly employed in marine fisheries

♦ 90% of rural poor’s food is produced by women

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