World Wildlife Fund: ‘Conservation for future generations’

Satellite images like this, showing the damaged presidential palace in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, give remote sensing specialists an idea of what would need to be rebuilt following Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake. Photo by: Imagecat Inc.

The World Wildlife Fund was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of global development professionals who are part of Devex, the largest network of aid and relief workers in the world.

Announced on April 18, Devex Top 40 Development Innovators is an impressive listing of the world’s leading donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and advocacy groups.

We asked each of the Innovators four questions to learn how they stay ahead to the curve and tackle old development challenges in new ways. Here’s how WWF responded:

‘Building on 50 years of success, with innovative approaches to conservation for future generations’

If you had to condense it to just one or two sentences, overall, what is it that makes your organization innovative?

Fifty years ago, a small group of concerned scientists, naturalists, and business and political leaders joined together with the innovative idea to save our Earth’s wildlife from extinction. The organization they founded — World Wildlife Fund — has since grown into the world’s leading conservation organization, working in more than 100 countries around the globe and using innovative science, technology and partnerships to protect a living planet.

Can you provide a specific example of something your organization has done that is particularly innovative?

On February 27, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Chile. The result was terrible: loss of human life, the destruction of homes and infrastructure and coastal devastation.

WWF’s Humanitarian Partnerships Program stepped into action, assembling a team of experts to go to Chile. They would assess both the environmental damage caused by the disasters and the impacts that recovery and reconstruction work might have on Chile’s people and ecosystems.

The team spent two weeks visiting coastal, rural, urban and industrial areas. At each site, they interviewed community members on changes in the environment both before and since the disasters, actions taken to address environmental problems, and known reconstruction plans.

Following this urgent assessment work, WWF provided training on sustainable recovery through the Green Recovery and Reconstruction Toolkit, which we developed in partnership with several humanitarian agencies. Green disaster recovery means planning reconstruction so the community uses its natural resources to rebuild in a safe and sustainable way. Sustainable reconstruction can provide important tools for mitigating the environmental impacts that might come with future disasters.

Looking ahead 10 years, what are some of the innovations in international development that your organization wants to be a part of?

WWF is working to link natural resource management, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. While linking NRM and CCA is something that is currently being addressed by development organizations, not much work has been done to link the three.

WWF is continuing to work in partnership with the health and population sectors to ensure that populations living in remote places of high biodiversity receive the education and services they need to live healthy, productive lives and serve as effective partners for conservation.

WWF works to reduce gender-based inequities in the remote communities in the developing world in which we work. The effectiveness of our conservation programs increases when all community members are empowered to participate fully in initiatives and develop valuable skills as stewards of their environments. WWF is continuing to work to provide direct support to women and girls in remote places of high biodiversity by improving access to microcredit, educational scholarships, renewable energy, and training in sustainable livelihoods.

One factor in driving innovation at any organization is the talent you hire and the partnerships you make. How does your organization take into account innovation when it comes to cultivating talent and partners?

Above all, WWF is committed to achieving conservation results. We actively encourage innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to conservation in the talent we hire and cultivate and in the partnerships we create and foster to achieve our mission – protecting the future of nature.

Check out the full listing of all Devex Top 40 Development Innovators on Facebook.

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