WWF legitimises the expansion
of polluting industry
How does WWF justify all this?
WWF officially states that it is important to work with industry in order to tackle the systemic causes of environmental degradation, in order to change the economic system. However, this excuse is ridiculous because in all the decades of collaboration of these companies with the WWF their partner corporations have become more, not less, polluting. After a long partnership Coca-Cola was still the most polluting plastic company in the world in 2020. Instead of tackling the systemic economic issues, these partnerships are reinforcing those underlying drivers by allowing companies to present themselves as eco friendly while increasing pollution and promoting market-based consumerist, false solutions to the issue. If WWF wanted to change the behavior of businesses they would challenge them and oppose them, not take their money, be led by corporate CEOs and help them justify their normal environmental destruction.
“We are particularly proud of our work on palm oil,” WWF said. However, WWF’s work on palm oil will take time to pay off and it may be too early to fully judge its success. Even so, if last year’s fires in Indonesia are any indication — an area the size of New Jersey went up in flames due to the palm oil and pulp and paper industry burning lands — any progress on the ground remains elusive [...] Critics say that what’s needed is data proving that corporate partnerships, certification schemes, payment for ecosystem services programs, and other new-conservation initiatives actually deliver on promises for wildlife and biodiversity”.
Global Witness research found a Logging company in Malaysia has used WWF sustainability scheme Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) to greenwash itself while still cutting trees in the protected area. The company in question, Malaysian logging company Ta Ann Holdings, has licenses to clear-cut 156,000 hectares of rainforest in Borneo, much of which lies within the boundaries of a signature WWF sustainable forest project called “Heart of Borneo.”
“The report, Pandering to the Loggers, found that widespread problems with monitoring and transparency have allowed several of the scheme’s member companies to continuously flout GFTN rules. The report cited several case studies that showed GFTN members illegally clearing forests or trading in illegal timber, including one in Malaysia which has been clearing the habitat of orang-utans and clouded leopards.”
It emerged that ten years after joining the scheme UK company Jewson was still trading in illegally sourced timber Swiss-German company the Danzer Group is facing new allegations of involvement in conflict between communities and authorities in an area of operation of one of its subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If WWF wanted to change the behavior of businesses they would challenge them and oppose them, not take their money, be led by corporate CEOs and help them justify their normal environmental destruction. On the contrary, many NGOs and researchers have observed how partnering with WWF helps big corporations to gain the legitimacy and authorization necessary to continue their destructive activities by making them look sustainable.
This is known as greenwashing.
“One of its first sponsor Its first corporate sponsor was Shell, one of whose presidents also served as president of WWF. The organisation has said recently that it is phasing out donations from fossil fuel companies, but this is not complete and in 2010 it was paid by Shell and to study which forests in the southern hemisphere should be retained and where land could be cleared for industrial use”
“There is ample evidence to suggest that partnering with the biodiversity sector does, in fact, help extractive companies to (re)establish the social conditions of production. For example, the Campo Ma’an and Mban et Djerem National Parks in Cameroon were created with financing from the consortium of oil and gas companies behind the Chad-Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project. When the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline was initially proposed in the late 1990s, the consortium faced a legitimacy crisis. Civil society organisations in Cameroon and around the world feared that the state was not strong enough to regulate the oil and gas sector and that environmental degradation would follow. Due to this legitimacy crisis, the consortium was initially unable to secure financing for the petroleum development and pipeline project. To overcome this challenge, it proposed that it would fund the creation and operation of two new national parks as a way of offsetting environmental degradation linked to the pipeline project, as well as a number of other environmental initiatives. This helped to appease concerns about the environmental impacts of the pipeline project from key financers and, subsequently, secure funding. Today, the WWF and Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife co-manage Campo Ma’an and Mban et Djerem National Parks with continued financing from the oil and gas consortium”
REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The WWF Messok Dja conservation projects in the Republic of Congo, where severe abuses were reported, including gang-rape, torture and murder, was also funded by logging and palm oil companies. Even though the logging companies concessions included parts of the same forest, which they are cutting down, and their logging roads are the primary avenue for poachers entering the park, the WWF did not oppose their activities in any way: it instead used their funding to pay for the anti-poaching eco-guards who abused the local Baka.
The extract from the following UNDP report on Messok Dja indicate how those financing the projects and partnering with WWF were damaging the ecosystem, including in the protected areas: “UNDP’s private sector partners, which provide parallel financing to the project, include large international logging and palm oil industry conglomerates: Industrie Forestière de Ouesso (IFO), tourism company (Congo Conservation Company), a palm oil company (Eco-Oil Energy).
Eco-Oil Energy is a Malaysian company: The concession agreement with the Congolese State covered an initial area of 50,000 hectares but is expected to vastly expand. However, The Prodoc refers to the establishment of palm oil plantations and commercial logging operations as major threats to the region’s biodiversity and wildlife. It states that the land-use changes brought about by palm oil plantations threaten to turn large tracts of land into hostile areas for medium and large-sized mammals either because they cannot survive in oil palm monocultures or because the presence of animals will not be tolerated by plantation managers. Concerning logging, the Prodoc states that timber production is not only affecting the region’s forest cover, but is also associated with high levels of poaching as formerly inaccessible forest tracts are being opened up by the logging roads crisscrossing the concession areas.
While persecuting Indigenous peoples who hunt to feed themselves the WWF, together with most of the conservation sector, has allowed and facilitated trophy hunting, where rich tourists kill wild, sometimes endangered animals, for fun. A former WWF campaign manager published a book showing that “The Worldwide Fund for Nature has a little-known record of backing the shooting of big game for sport and has recently been involved in trying to stop legal obstacles being placed in the paths of the hunters”.This is a very lucrative business but is obviously really harmful for wildlife. Some WWF offices changed their view on this, and WWF put out statements against it, but the practice continues in many WWF reserves and in parks where the WWF works, such as Ngorongoro and Serengeti in Tanzania. WWF says that “The decision to allow trophy hunting is a sovereign one made entirely by the government concerned”, but these governments are getting heavily funded by WWF who hasn’t pressured them to stop.
All these examples of partnerships are destructive for the ecosystem because, while protecting a small fraction of land they allow industries who fund conservation to continue degrading ecosystems all around the protected areas, which is what matters on the large scale. In this way all the ecosystems around the protected area become degraded and this ultimately also damages the protected area, as ecosystems are all interlinked.