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Tagged ‘World Wildlife Fund (WWF)‘

Obama to Open Post-presidency Office in World Wildlife Fund Headquarters

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The “Natural Capital Project” partners
“The implementation of payment for ecosystem services,” Morningstar observes, “will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed.” This new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy, she says, represents “the commodification of most everything sacred,” and “the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure”—a mechanism that, “will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”— May 6, 2016, Jay Taber, Earth Economics
Could Obama’s move into WWF headquarters also signal what could be an acceleration of the implementation of payments for ecosystems services (also referred to as the “new economy”, “natural capital”, the financialization of nature, The Next System, etc.) by the world’s most powerful institutions and states? Consider the White House memorandum, October 7, 2015: Incorporating Natural Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services in Federal Decision-Making:
“That is why, today, the Administration is issuing a memorandum directing all Federal agencies to incorporate the value of natural, or “green,” infrastructure and ecosystem services into Federal planning and decision making. The memorandum directs agencies to develop and institutionalize policies that promote consideration of ecosystem services, where appropriate and practicable, in planning, investment, and regulatory contexts.”
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The Washington Post

December 12, 2016

FLASHBACK: WWF’s Eco Imperialism

Corporate Power and Mining in Mongolia

November 03, 2008

Some of parts of the environmental movement have long presented a serious obstacle to the destruction wrought on life by the corporate powers that be and their imperial overseers. On the contrary, other influential and well publicized parts of the movement have also played a critical role in undermining the emancipatory potential of environmentalism in order to satisfy imperial interests. Environmental groups that fit comfortably within this latter category of “environmentalists” include those collectively referred to as the Big Green, or the Group of Ten, although only the work of one member of this elite group, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), will be examined in this article. (For a comprehensive overview of WWF’s capitalist-friendly agenda, see my recent article “The Philanthropic Roots of Corporate Environmentalism,” Swans, November 3, 2008.)

Recognition of the imperialist nature of many so-called green nongovernmental organizations has, paradoxically, been widely promoted by conservative commentators. Thus resident scholar at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Paul Driessen, recently published a controversial book titled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power Black Death (Merril Press, 2003). The introduction to Driessen’s book was penned by Niger Innis, the national spokesperson of the once progressive civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality – an organization which has now warped into a “fraudulent” corporate front group. In his introduction, Innis noted how:

“The ideological environmental movement is a powerful $4 billion-a-year US industry, an $8 billion-a-year international gorilla. Many of its members are intensely eco-centric, and place much higher value on wildlife and ecological values than on human progress or even human life. They have a deep fear and loathing of big business, technology, chemicals, plastics, fossil fuels and biotechnology – and they insist that the rest of world should acknowledge and live according to their fears and ideologies. They are masters at using junk science, scare tactics, intimidation, and bogus economic and health claims to gain even greater power.” (pdf)

Innis is correct in observing that the environmental movement is a multi-billion dollar industry, but like Driessen, he deliberately fails to highlight how the most powerful and well-funded environmental groups driving this industry work hand-in-hand with big business and imperial governments. On the other hand, those environmental organizations that seriously challenge corporate prerogatives receive little funding from the public or even for that matter from ostensibly progressive liberal foundations. Consequently I agree with Innis and Driessen that the best-funded parts of the environmental movement that are regularly talked-up in the mass media promote eco-imperialism, but this is not because they challenge powerful elite interests, but rather because they serve them so effectively. For instance, in 2007 WWF’s Global Networks income was US$0.8 billion; therefore, it should be no surprise that such groups that were founded by powerful corporate and political elites, and are presently funded by those same elites, should first and foremost promote capitalist interests under the cloak of environmentalism. For more on this see Elaine Dewar’s groundbreaking book Cloak of Green: The Links between Key Environmental Groups, Government and Big Business (Lorimer, 1995).

How the World Wildlife Fund Colluded With Big Timber to Target Sacred Lands for Logging

Sustainable Colonialism® in the Boreal Forest

Counterpunch | Weekend Edition July 13-15, 2012

by RUSS McSPADDEN

What do you get when the world’s largest environmental organization and the world’s largest “sustainable” logging company shake hands? Answer: a half dozen press-releases that’ll increase donations to the eco bureaucracy,  a green-washed face lift for a rapacious industry and a good old fashioned guilt-free feeling white America is willing to pay extra money for.

Oh yeah, that and the continuation of deforestation and the kind of genocidal colonial land use policies North America is founded on.

Resolute Forestry Products, on the heels of a big fat congrats last month by the World Wildlife Fund for its role as the world’s largest manager of Forest Stewardship Council® certified forests, has begun illegally logging on unceded indigenous land in the Boreal forest. Despite very clear stipulations spelled out in the UN Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a ruling by the supreme court of Canada that first nations must be notified of any intent to log on their land, Quebec’s liberal party government, under the leadership of provincial premier Jean Cherest, has sidestepped any negotiations with the original and sovereign inhabitants of the land and permitted the operation.

There is an on-the-ground indigenous resistance effort—an indigenous occupation of colonially occupied land—that has the potential to stave off the clearcuts and bolster the cultural life of a First Nation. They need supplies and funding for legal support and camp logistics. They need coffee and food staples. But maybe you had better just close your eyes and give that money to a large environmental organization. I doubt the Barriere Lake Algonquins will send you a bumper sticker for your Prius or an eco-friendly tote-bag in return. No, they have far more at stake than the value of their eco-brand.

“Tomorrow, they might arrest community members. We don’t have any other choice. My grandchildren will ask me “why didn’t you try to protect the ‘sacred site’ and my words will be worthless because its not there, that’s what we are facing, what we will loose for our grandchildren, but at least we are going to show that we stood our ground and the spirit was there with us.”

That’s Michel Thusky, an elder of the Barriere Lake Algonquins in southern Quebec and a survivor of the culturally devastating Canadian Indian residential school system. Known to themselves as the Mitchikanibikok Inik, they are yet another tribe of Algonquins in the region, along with the Attikamek, the Wemotaci and the Manawan, who have resisted illegal logging practices on their land, through camps and blockades, in the past few months.

The First Nation community is about three and half hours north of Ottowa, the capital of Canada, along highway 117, in the middle of the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve—a part of the Boreal forest.  Resolute Forest Products began logging last Tuesday, but has since been stopped by a series of round-the-clock camps occupied by elders, youth and children. I spoke with Mr. Thusky on Friday, two days after members of the camp were read their rights by Sûreté du Québec officers, and were warned of impeding arrests if they did not allow logging to proceed.

Killer Panda: WWF Gives Panda Stamp of Approval for the Killing of Marine Mammals

[WKOG editor: We recommend the beyond exceptional documentary titled Earthlings to learn more about speciesism and society’s treatment of animals.]

“I am sure that many of WWF’s 5 million members will be shocked to discover that their donations are supporting the slaughter of pregnant and protected marine mammals in the name of ‘responsible’ and ‘environmental’ salmon farming.  WWF’s ‘Killer Panda’ is effectively loading the bullets to shoot seals and sea lions.  Please stop the certification of lethal salmon farms as “responsible” by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.  WWF’s support for the killing of marine mammals is irresponsible and can only bring the WWF global brand into further disrepute.”

July 2012

The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture

The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture has written to WWF with the simple message: Please withdraw your support for the slaughter of marine mammals (including pregnant seals and protected sea lions) by salmon farms.

Read the letter (9 July) to WWF online here

GAAIA’s ‘Salmon Farming Kills’ campaign is calling for a global boycott of all ‘seal unfriendly’ and ‘sea lion unfriendly’ farmed salmon – and that shamefully includes WWF-endorsed farmed salmon.

The ‘Final Standards for Responsible Salmon Aquaculture’ published by WWF in June 2012 specifically (and shockingly) promote the killing of marine mammals.  By supporting the certification of farmed salmon via the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and lethal farmed salmon standards via the ‘Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue’, the ‘Killer Panda’ is effectively pulling the trigger and has blood on its paws. 

WWF Scandal (Part 4): The Dark Side of the Panda

By Chris Lang,
29, May 2012

WWF scandal (Part 4): The dark side of the Panda

In June 2011, the German TV station ARD broadcast a documentary titled “The Silence of the Pandas: What the WWF isn’t saying”. The film-maker, Wilfried Huisman has also published a book about WWF: “Black Book WWF: Shady deals under the sign of the panda”.

WWF’s reaction to the criticism has been interesting. WWF produced a Fact Check on its website. Huisman responded to WWF’s Fact Check on his website. WWF has also won three injunctions at the District Court in Cologne preventing the re-broadcasting of parts of the film. A (long) diary of WWF Germany’s communications about Huisman’s film and book is here. (This discussion is in German.)

“It is unlikely that any other charitable organisation that depends on public support operates with such little accountability and in such secrecy as WWF…. It is easier to penetrate the CIA. And when WWF has been caught in embarrassing conducts it has engaged in damage control and cover-ups of the kind that might be expected from a company whose products have caused injury to consumers and the environment.”

Raymond Bonner, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, wrote that in his 1994 book, “At the Hand of Man – Peril and Hope for Africa’s Wildlife”. He was writing about WWF when Charles de Haes was International Director General (from 1975 to 1993). Has WWF changed since then?

Green Veneer | WWF Helps Industry More than Environment

05/29/2012

By Jens Glüsing and Nils Klawitter

Spiegel

“Some people consider it outrageous that Spanish King Juan Carlos, who enjoys hunting big game, is the honorary president of WWF Spain. Here, a 2006 photo of Juan Carlos (right) during a hunting trip in Botswana.”

AFP

The WWF is the most powerful environmental organization in the world and campaigns internationally on issues such as saving tigers and rain forests. But a closer look at its work leads to a sobering conclusion: Many of its activities benefit industry more than the environment or endangered species.

Want to protect the rainforest? All it takes is €5 ($6.30) to get started. Save the gorillas? Three euros and you’re in. You can even do your part for nature with only 50 cents — as long as you entrust it to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which is still known by its original name of the World Wildlife Fund in the United States and Canada.

Last year, the WWF, together with German retail group Rewe, sold almost 2 million collectors’ albums. In only six weeks, the program raised €875,088 ($1.1 million), which Rewe turned over to the WWF.

The WWF has promised to do a lot of good things with the money, like spending it on forests, gorillas, water, the climate — and, of course, the animal the environmental protection group uses as its emblem, the giant panda.

Governments also entrust a lot of money to the organization. Over the years, the WWF has received a total of $120 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For a long time, German government ministries were so generous to the organization that the WWF even decided, in the 1990s, to limit the amount of government funding it could receive. The organization was anxious not to be seen as merely an extension of government environmental protection agencies.

Illusion of Aid

But can the WWF truly protect nature against human beings? Or do the organization’s attractive posters merely offer the illusion of help? Fifty years after the organization was founded, there are growing doubts as to the independence of the WWF and its business model, which involves partnering with industry to protect nature.

The WWF, whose international headquarters are located in Gland, Switzerland, is seen as the world’s most powerful conservation organization. It is active in more than 100 countries, where it enjoys close connections to the rich and the powerful. Its trademark panda emblem appears on Danone yoghurt cups and the clothing of jetsetters like Princess Charlene of Monaco. Companies pay seven-figure fees for the privilege of using the logo. The WWF counts 430,000 members in Germany alone, and millions of people give their savings to the organization. The question is how sustainably this money is actually being invested.

SPIEGEL traveled around South America and the Indonesian island of Sumatra to address this question. In Brazil, an agricultural industry executive talked about the first shipload of sustainable soybeans, certified in accordance with WWF standards, to reach Rotterdam last year, amid a flurry of PR hype. The executive had to admit, however, that he wasn’t entirely sure where the shipment had come from. In Sumatra, members of a tribal group reported how troops hired by WWF partner Wilmar had destroyed their houses, because they had stood in the way of unfettered palm oil production.

WWF Scandal (Part 3): Embezzlement and Evictions in Tanzania

Source: REDD-Monitor

By Chris Lang, 9th May 2012

WWF scandal (part 3): Embezzlement and evictions in Tanzania

WWF is embroiled in a two-part scandal over its work in Tanzania. In October 2011, thousands of villagers were evicted from a WWF project area in the Rufiji Delta. This year WWF Tanzania staff were caught embezzling funds.

On 28 October 2011, forestry officials protected by armed police burned down hundreds of farm huts and cut down villagers’ palm trees. The huts were used to plant and harvest rice. The government had announced the planned evictions in January 2011. One of the people affected, was Bakari Wanga, chairman of Kiomboni village, one of three villages in the Rufiji Delta. “What is happening here is absolute madness, our huts are being torched and coconut trees felled by a group of natural resources officials escorted by the police,” Wanga told the Daily News.

WWF denies any involvement in the evictions. WWF’s Country Director, Stephen Mariki, told the Daily News, that “WWF has never advocated the eviction of communities from the delta. The recent evictions were carried out by government agencies.”

WWF’s project in the Rufiji Delta is a mangrove restoration project. According to Jonathan Cook of WWF-US, WWF is “working with the Forestry Division to replant and restore mangrove habitats degraded by illegal rice farming”.

In November 2011, Betsy Beymer-Farris and Thomas Bassett published a paper titled, “The REDD menace: Resurgent protectionism in Tanzania’s mangrove forests”, in Global Environmental Change. The paper is critical of WWF’s Rufiji Delta project and of REDD:

“Within the context of the Tanzanian state and WWF’s climate change ‘adaptation strategy’, mangrove reforestation reduces the ability of Rufiji farmers to cultivate rice for subsistence needs and thus poses a direct threat to their livelihoods.”

Beymer-Farris and Bassett argue that the evictions of the Warufiji, the people living in the Rufiji Delta, is part of a process of creating a REDD project in the Rufiji Delta, where carbon is more important than people:

“The removal of the Warufiji ‘simplifies’ the mangrove forests in order to make levels of carbon sequestration ‘legible’ for carbon markets.”

WWF’s response to the paper is fascinating. After an article based on the paper appeared in Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper, the head of WWF Norway, Rasmus Hansson, wrote a response in which he attacked the research and wrote that it would “make serious researchers blush”. Beymer-Farris and Bassett replied by explaining that there was nothing wrong with their research and that they stood by their findings.

On 3 February 2012, WWF lodged a formal complaint with the journal that published the paper. WWF requested that the article be removed from the journal’s website.

Failed Saviors | NGOs & Ecotourism [Africa, WWF, Nature Conservancy]

Source

Are ecotourism and wildlife conservation in Africa so sacrosanct in the minds of their supporters that they’ve dodged proper regulation or perhaps even swerved off moral pathways?

I obtained with pride a Conde Nast ecotourism award in 2004 for my client, Hoopoe Safaris of Tanzania. But in the decade since then my own ideas about ecotourism and NGO involvement in African conservation have changed.

There are two issues, here. The first is that “ecotourism” is no longer a legitimate marker for good tourism practices in Africa. The second is that wildlife NGOs have grown increasingly callous of the priorities of local populations. So the two are related. Both discount the preeminent interests of local people in the areas where their interests are pursued.

The common thread that I’ve watch develop over the last decade is that western-driven “charity” or “aid” or “consultation” or “community based tourism” has grown increasingly isolated from the people who theoretically will benefit from those foreign efforts.

Even if there aren’t contextual conflicts, disputes about goals or methodology, the ignoring of the local populations’ interests spawns conflict. Imagine what you might feel if a Chinese NGO came into your suburban neighborhood and began research then implementation of plans to cultivate an herbal remedy … like garlic mustard… in the city parks. You would at least expect participation in the discussion, and you would become infuriated if you weren’t consulted.

In the last decade local people throughout Africa have increased substantially in numbers and in education levels as well. Most parts of Africa have become well linked to the outside world through increased internet and cell phone access. This empowers the local communities to better scrutinize their so-called foreign benefactors.

ECOTOURISM IS A SHAM

The academic community has always been skeptical of ecotourism. A 2007 Harvard study of Tanzania ecotourism concluded that while most such projects seemed legitimate, there was a substantial percentage that weren’t. An analysis by Ohio State University in 2011 of Tanzania ecotourism was much more damning. The report actually named (accused) specific Tanzanian operators that were scamming tourists with the ploy of arguing their products were ecotouristic when they were anything but.

The above studies, and many more referenced within them, are convincing documents that ecotourism if not an out and out scam is a very poorly formed idea. The initial theories might be good, but implementation seems impossible. And the Ohio State study in particular described why self-appointed certification authorities weren’t working, either, so that the notion of creating some universal standard is mute.

The UN initially thought otherwise. It promoted ecotourism but has since backed away from the idea. Almost a year ago exactly I posted several blogs citing the growing skepticism with ecotourism throughout the world. Nothing has changed; ecotourism as commonly applied in the marketing of travel is neither honest or good.

Khadija Sharife in the Africa Report summed it perfectly last week in the post’s title, “The Drunken Logic of Ecotourism.”

WILDLIFE NGO ARROGANCE

But in the year since I and many, many others pointed out the disservice that foreign marketing ploys like “ecotourism” do to local peoples, another foreign fixture of African life has emerged as equally unfair and misleading: wildlife NGOs.

It will be harder to convince you of this, I know. The loyalty that the world’s great animal savior organizations command is legend. It’s one thing to suggest that a relatively small foreign-controlled tour company in Tanzania is not serving the local populations well. It’s another to make this claim against the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) or the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).

WWF’s long involvement in Africa stands mostly as a fabulous contribution to baseline research and good management of threatened and endangered species. But as with the morphing of the idea of ecotourism into a marketing scam, it could be that the long involvement developed a sense of propriety WWF should not have presumed.

Its most serious conflict is in Tanzania in the Rufiji delta, the outskirts of the great Selous game reserve, which has come under increasing scrutiny because of its enormous hydroelectric potential. A much greater controversy actually than the WWF one I describe below is the World Bank decision to support a hydroelectric dam that could seriously disrupt The Selous and Rufiji delta basin.

But the World Bank’s mission to help developed countries grow and prosper is contextually proper in weighing the consequences of a dam draining a game reserve. The debate is heated and ongoing, and everyone accepts one important debate: who should make the decision? Professionals weighing the overall value to Tanzanian society, or local people immediately impacted?

Quite unlike the World Bank, WWF skipped this important step when it began programs to inhibit rice farming on the outskirts of The Selous. Local rice farmers were obviously the first to be impacted, but they had no input into the decisions regarding the project and WWF sought none from them.

The project mission was always suspect to me, but the rapid implementation without adequate consultation with the local population reeks of arrogance. The entire project has now devolved into all sorts of criminal and unethical consequences. Eight WWF employees have resigned, plus the Tanzania country director, Stephen Mariki.

WWF should be complemented for trying to right this wrong, but the culture that led to their presumption of determining the life ways of local Tanzanian people is the real problem. And that will be a much harder thing to remedy than just abandoning the rice project.

The current most egregious wildlife NGO controversy, however, is on no path to reconciliation because the organization, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), continues to defend its position.

AWF encapsulates its overall mission in the phrase “heartlands.” Over the last several decades, AWF has created heartland areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa in which it concentrates its research and assistance. An essential purpose is to create wildlife corridors between established nationally gazetted protected wildlife areas like national parks to increase the potential for biodiversity and reduce the inbreeding that could otherwise effect large wild animal populations.

Noble. The problem for some time has been to create these corridors, land must be acquired from private holdings. This may have something to do with AWF’s close partnership with the Nature Conservancy in 2007.

But what happens when farmers or other landholders don’t want to sell? AWF’s response has been high-handed and now, it appears, infuriated local populations are gaining the initiative.

In and around their large Manyara ranch holding in Tanzania, AWF has negotiated versions of eminent domain with the Tanzanian government that caused enormous friction locally. And now in Kenya, their acquisition of land (which they subsequently tried to deed over to a new Kenyan Laikipia National Park) is on track to totally cripple all their good efforts in East Africa.

AWF insists it has been playing by the rules. But two thousand Samburu people don’t care if they were playing by the rules or not; they insist with credibility that they have been displaced illegally from their traditional lands by AWF’s high-handed moves.

Unlike WWF, AWF seems to be digging in its heels for a fight that will emasculate it. And if it goes down as I expect it will, so will the reputation and memories of good work that wildlife NGOs have been undertaking for decades in Africa.

Why is AWF resisting an acceptable settlement? AWF is a much younger organization than WWF, and its donor base is much smaller than WWF, much less publicly than individually endowed.

Nature Conservancy is itself a less publicly endowed organization limited to wealthy landowners mostly in Illinois. It could be that these two closely held NGOs feel less vulnerable to public opinion than a more globally funded organization like WWF.

Both these situations, with ecotourism and wildlife NGOs, represent not just outside interference, but outside indifference to the preeminent rights of local people. And because that indifference has been so arrogant – dare one say “racist”? – it led these otherwise noble organizations into presumptions of their legitimacy that denied the preeminent legitimacy of local peoples.

It led tourist companies to scam local peoples with ecotourism; and it led wildlife NGOs to become deluged by the power of their previous successes. It led both types of organizations to ignore the legitimate and preeminent needs of the local populations.

Africa is developing so rapidly I can see incidents of polite refusal, so to speak, of tourist projects and foreign wildlife programs that are put to bed rather easily. The recent controversy in the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) involving the translocation of rhino is a good example of “local populations” politely indicting foreign organizations trying to tell them what to do.

But in heated political arenas, this politeness will be lost. WWF had to back down altogether, fire staff and refund grants. AWF should do the same. When sensibilities are exchanged for political control, foreign tour companies and foreign wildlife NGOs have no hope of prevailing.

Beware, guys. A lot of good has come from your work in the last half century. Don’t blow it.

Bolivia: The US Is Spying on Latin America Under the Cover of USAID and other NGOs

 “I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Feb 10, 2012

China Daily

LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday accused the United States of spying on his and other Latin American countries.

The Bolivian president said the spying is done under the cover of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Morales said the United States, through the cover of development aid operations of those organizations, knows “all the details of the activities of the social sectors and union leaders” in those Latin American countries.

The president regretted that some union leaders were allegedly used by these NGOs to stir disputes such as the one over a highway project in an indigenous territory in his country.

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