by Lilian Gikandi
Did you know that as well as being our logo, the panda is a symbol of hope? This has never been more appropriate; we not only want to safeguard the future of species and nature and indeed ourselves, but we are all about being able to inspire others to achieve that. We want to give us all hope that we can find a way to better protect all our futures.
What have we achieved in the last 60 years?
WWF today celebrates 60 years of environmental action, and like any landmark birthday, it's a time to reflect. We are looking back, and looking forward. Our history includes such pivotal moments as protecting iconic species like pandas, tigers, rhinos and elephants as well as those that are less known like the river dolphins in Asia and Latin America, securing the introduction of an indefinite moratorium on oil activities in Belize waters, and pioneering the debt-for-nature concept in Madagascar as a means to help preserve the country’s rich biodiversity. Over six decades, what has become the world’s largest conservation organisation has worked to tackle a depth and breadth of environmental challenges.
From its beginnings in 1961 as a small group of committed leaders and naturalists, this organization - known by that iconic panda - has come a long way. Sixty years on, WWF has grown into a global voice at the centre of international efforts for nature, with a commitment to do much more than protect species and places - although that important work continues of course. Active in nearly 100 countries and supported by over 35 million people worldwide, today WWF uses its privileged position to advocate with others for the changes we need to see in response to the world’s biggest challenges. Whether that is transforming global food systems or working with financial institutions to redirect financial flows away from environmentally and socially destructive practices, there is much to do.
WWF is not just about saving whales and tigers and rainforests, and preventing pollution and waste, but is inescapably concerned with the future conduct, welfare and happiness and indeed survival of mankind on this planet.”
Max Nicholson, 1961.
So what does the future hold?
We haven’t achieved these changes by ourselves, and we are incredibly humbled by the collaboration and partnership we continue to bear witness to, and want to continue to create and inspire, whether that’s among communities, or with businesses, or asking leaders the world over to make a change.
In addition to hope, then, we need partnership more than ever, because we need to achieve more in the next 10 years than we have in the past 60, no question. Today, it is clearer than ever before that we are witnessing a catastrophic collapse in our planet’s biodiversity. The latest Living Planet Report - WWF’s flagship science-based analysis of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet - revealed a two-thirds crash in wildlife populations on average in the last 50 years, which in turn threatens our climate, food, fresh water and health.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with its roots in rampant land-use change, deforestation and the wildlife trade, is the latest evidence that our unsustainable activity, as humans, is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support all life on Earth to the brink.
It's fair to say, then, that our mission has only grown in relevance over the last six decades. Today we know we can only have a safe, prosperous, healthy and fair future for humanity on a cared-for planet where sustainable development becomes the norm. That’s why this decade must be a turning point. COVID-19 is a wake-up call to the wide-ranging risks posed by our unbalanced and destructive relationship with nature. We now need to think, and act, bigger and faster than ever before. We can do this, together.