World Wildlife Fund

Washington, D.C.

Nov 2, 2011
Outside Magazine

Panda    Photo: Sheila Lau/Wikimedia

BY THE NUMBERS: More than $1 billion invested in roughly 12,000 projects in 100 countries since 1985
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Carter Roberts, 51, a Harvard MBA who spent 15 years leading domestic, international, and science programs at the Nature Conservancy
WHAT IT DOES: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was founded in 1961 with a deceptively simple mission: to conserve species. It soon realized that in order to do that, it needed to preserve the land and oceans those species live in—and that triage was in order. Over the years, the organization has homed in on 19 hot spots of biodiversity experiencing grave threats, such as the Amazon, the eastern Himalayas, and the Arctic. Now operating out of 100 offices worldwide, WWF employs a strategy heavy on fieldwork and scientific studies, which staffers use both to develop solutions at the village level and to affect policies and consumer behavior. One solution WWF pioneered: sustainable-business certifications that encourage better business practices and informed purchasing among consumers.
EXTRA CREDIT: WWF’s name recognition and budget allow it to implement projects and initiatives that cross political borders and incorporate dozens of complicated partnerships, a difficult feat for smaller groups.
LOOKING AHEAD: Through its Market Transformation Initiative, WWF is working with about 100 multinational corporations—50 partnerships are already established—that provide staples like soy, beef, and sugar. The idea is to help companies institute sustainable practices on all levels, from harvesting to packaging. Critics decry WWF for sleeping with the enemy—the organization takes consulting fees—but its success is undeniable. In the past four years, with WWF’s help, Coca-Cola has improved water efficiency by 13 percent and reduced carbon emissions by 6 percent.