Balancing the planet's resources

Oliver Tickell reports on WWF's history; WWF has 5 million members and an income of $270 million a year

A A A
WWF, now a central part of the worldwide environmental movement,only came into being 35 years ago. Now it has active programmes in over 100 countries, five million members and a global income of $270 million a year.

In December 1960, zoologist Julian Huxley wrote a seminal series of articles for The Observer, warning of the rapidly deteriorating state of Africa's wild animals and habitats. These inspired others into action, notably Peter Scott, Max Nicholson and Guy Mountford. Nine months after Huxley's articles, on 11 September, the World Wildlife Fund was registered as a charity. Prince Philip became president of the WWF's first National Appeal - launched in a "shock issue" of the Daily Mirror on 9 October 1961.

Three days later 10 mailbags arrived at WWF's temporary office, then 12 bags the next day, then 20 and so on. Eventually the Daily Mirror raised pounds 50,000 and the new Ark was well and truly launched. National Appeals followed in other countries, raising $1.9 million in three years for WWF's international secretariat - now WWF International (WWF-I).

Over WWF's first two decades, says Charles de Haes, WWF-I's director- general for 16 years, it concentrated directly on saving endangered wildlife habitats and species. In 1980, WWF together IUCN (World Conservation Union) and UNEP argued conservation had to meet human needs, based on the then novel concept of sustainable development. Now WWF is attacking the root causes of environmental degradation.

The organisation too has evolved. Under its first director general, Fritz Vollmar, the WWF network grew enormously and raised many millions of pounds for conservation. But it itself remained chronically short of money and depended heavily on volunteers.

In 1970 Prince Bernhard, the first president, launched an appeal for a $10 million capital fund whose income would finance WWF-I's administration. This was as much money as had been raised in the preceding nine years. Within 1,000 days 1,001 people willing to contribute $10,000 to the Nature Trust had been signed up. De Haes, says: "Not only did we win financial security, but it gave us enormous influence as these people were leaders from all over the world."

Another kind of WWF body was also established - the Programme Office, intended to run WWF's conservation activities in a country or region. By 1995 there were 30 all around the world.

At the same time they made it clear that WWF-I had to become a leaner and meaner machine. In the spring of 1995 it laid off a fifth of its entire staff.

There are now 25 National Offices, of which five stand out in terms of wealth and influence. Holland (where one in 19 citizens is a member), the USA, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden collectively raise three quarters of WWF's global income which funds WWF's partners and projects in the developing world and the North.

For the future, WWF's leaders are busy mapping out the strategies that will make it a conservation leader of the 21st century, with a focus on forests, fisheries, climate, and fresh water. For five years WWF has been building equal partnerships with the indigenous peoples of the biodiverse tropics. If it can succeed in balancing such divided interests and in bridging such widely separated worlds then its core mission - to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature - will surely be well on the way to accomplishment.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us