Paris Agreement passes its first stress test

“The UN climate talks continue to be filled with twists and turns, but they have delivered what they needed to this week – putting substance behind the promise of the Paris Agreement,” reported Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF International’s Climate & Energy Practice at the end of COP22 in Marrakech.

“Commitment to the Paris Agreement passed its first stress test with countries restating that they are in this for the long haul. One hundred and eleven countries have ratified the Agreement and nations are beginning to submit their longterm roadmaps for decarbonisation. But there’s still work to do. The emissions gap between what is needed to protect the planet from the worst impacts of climate change and the goals set out by governments in Paris continues to grow. Countries will assess progress and try to come back with more ambitious targets before 2020 to ensure that the gap is closed quickly.”


© WWF-Netherlands
John Kerry signing Paris Agreement with his grand daughter
© Amanda Voisard / UN Photo

Global calls for Viet Nam to end illegal wildlife trade

Viet Nam has become a major global wildlife trafficking hub, with rhino horn, ivory and tiger parts openly for sale or being smuggled through it to other markets, particularly China. With Hanoi hosting an international conference on illegal wildlife trade, WWF seized the opportunity to launch a global petition to increase public pressure on the Vietnamese authorities to act.

Led by WWF-Netherlands, WWF International and WWF-US, with support from other offices and WWF’s Global Ambassador, Andy Murray, the advocacy drive saw more than 225,000 people add their voices to the call for a crackdown on illegal wildlife trade.

The petition, which was covered on Vietnamese TV, was handed over to the
Vietnamese authorities the day before the conference. At the end of the event, the government pledged to strictly monitor domestic markets, eradicate illegal wildlife trade points, strengthen law enforcement and improve cross-border cooperation.

Flatback turtle at the Cleveland Bay field trip, Queensland - 13 - 19 October 2014. In October 2014, WWF, and its project partners, conducted major research in Cleveland Bay, south of Townsville. The research trip is part of the Rivers to Reef to Turtles project, led by WWF-Australia, in partnership with the Banrock Station Environmental Trust. The goal is to investigate which contaminants are in reef waters, to what degree green turtles are absorbing these contaminants, and how that might be impacting turtle health.
© Christine Hof / WWF-Aus

Melanesia’s ocean: high-value but under pressure

Reviving Melanesia’s Ocean Economy: The Case for Action, a major new WWF report, has revealed that the ocean is a much larger part of Melanesia’s economy than previously thought, and is valued at more than US$548 billion with an annual output of US$5.4 billion. 

The report launch in Suva, Fiji, drew a high-level audience and is already influencing dialogue on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal on oceans. The report has featured widely in the media and among leading policy think tanks.

WWF’s Pacific Representative, Kesaia Tabunakawai, said, “This new analysis adds considerable weight to the case for ocean conservation to be an even higher priority for Melanesian leaders. We are running out of time and need action at a much greater scale and urgency to secure food and livelihoods for future generations.”



Conserving Bulgaria’s old-growth forests

One of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme’s major activities has been the identification and mapping of the region’s virgin forests, urging governments to give them special and priority recognition in national legislation – as this is essential for their effective protection. 

These old-growth forests make up a significant part of Europe’s remaining pristine ecosystems, but face major threats from unsustainable resource use, poor forest management and illegal logging. 

Now the Bulgarian government has practically banned logging in the country’s old-growth forests within the EU’s Natura 2000 network of protected sites. As a result, 109,000 hectares of old-growth forest will remain untouched. 

This success is a sign that strong and conscious action taken by governments in Eastern Europe can achieve a balance between economic, social and environmental interests, and save Europe’s last remaining virgin forests.


© David Lawson / WWF-UK
Endemic to DRC, bonobos occur irregularly over a large area, but Salonga is the only National Park in their range. It potentially holds 40% of the world bonobo population.
© Sinziana Demian/WWF Central Africa

Protecting tigers from infrastructure development

At the 2010 St Petersburg Tiger Summit, all 13 tiger range states committed to doubling wild tigers numbers by 2022 – the Tx2 goal. Then, there were just 3,200 tigers in the wild, but over the past six years, numbers have crept up thanks to better management of protected areas, regional endorsement of a Zero Poaching approach, improved monitoring and efforts to tackle tiger trafficking, all majorly supported by WWF. 

There are now an estimated 3,890 wild tigers, but according to WWF’s new report The Road Ahead: Protecting Tigers from Asia’s Infrastructure Development Boom, a vast network of planned infrastructure across Asia represents an unprecedented threat.

As Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tiger’s Alive Initiative said, “of course infrastructure is central to Asia’s development, but we need to ensure it is sustainable and does not come at the expense of tigers and tiger landscapes”.


© James Morgan / WWF International
WWF staff member Ivan Hristov, freshwater expert with Danube programme.

African palm oil pledge will protect forests

During the global climate negotiations in Morocco, seven African countries showed their commitment to addressing deforestation by signing a joint pledge to shift to sustainable palm oil production, a move that could protect 70 per cent of Africa’s tropical forests. 

In another piece of good news, a group of leading non-governmental organizations, including WWF, civil-society organizations and companies, agreed to develop a single, coherent set of principles for companies that commit to “no deforestation” in their palm oil operations and supply chains. Currently, there is no definitive standard for “no deforestation” or “deforestation-free,” and thus no clear way of keeping track of companies’ commitments.