‘Greenwashing’ has been defined as creating “a false or misleading picture of environmental friendliness used to conceal or obscure damaging activities.” Not something you would normally associate with the WWF, whose cute Panda logo has helped make it the face of wildlife conservation globally. But there’s more to the story, as this new report shows.
WWF wins Survival’s “Greenwashing of the Year” award
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has won Survival International’s “Greenwashing of the Year” award for partnering with seven companies logging nearly 4 million hectares of forests belonging to the Baka and Bayaka “Pygmies” in central Africa.
The award is given to companies or organizations who dress up the destruction of tribal peoples’ forests as conservation.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based at the Bronx Zoo in New York, has been named as runner-up, also for its activities in the Congo Basin. It has partnered with two logging companies, neither of which have obtained the consent of the tribal peoples in the areas in which they work.
WWF describes logging companies as “forest operators.” According to WWF, its partnerships with these companies are intended to “advance sustainable forest management.”
In reality, however, all of WWF’s partners have been accused of illegal logging and none have received the consent of the Baka and Bayaka “Pygmies.” A recent study found that approaches like WWF’s have failed to slow the break-up of the Congo Basin rainforest.
In a 2011 report, the environmental NGO Global Witness said that the partnerships “allow some… member companies to reap the benefits of association with WWF and its iconic Panda brand while continuing unsustainable logging, conversion of forests to plantations, or trading in illegally sourced timber.”
The partnerships also violate WWF’s own policy on indigenous peoples, which requires all projects to be undertaken with the full consent of tribal communities.
A Baka man said: “It’s the Baka’s forest, which we’ve conserved for a long time. It’s the loggers who bring guns and their brothers who hunt all the animals.”
A Baka woman added that “we need to fight against this because our forest is being finished off completely.”
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “WWF’s supporters might be surprised to learn that it’s working so closely with the loggers who are destroying one of Earth’s great rainforests. Congo Basin tribes, the original guardians, are being pushed aside and their societies wrecked. Across Africa and Asia, the big conservation organizations partner with industry and tourism and destroy the environment’s best allies. It’s a con, and it’s harming conservation. Perhaps this “award” might encourage people inside WWF and WCS to put pressure on their organizations for reform. It’s time to listen to tribal conservationists.”
Note: WWF has partnered with: Bolloré Group, Danzer Group, Decolvenaere Group, Pasquet Group, Rougier Group, SEFAC Group and Vicwood Group. WCS has partnered with Danzer Group and the Olam Group. Full report here.
“Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves.
VIEW/DOWNLOAD: Survival International Report – WWF and the loggers
In the Congo Basin, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is supporting squads of wildlife guards that abuse tribal people as well as a network of “protected areas” that is driving them from their ancestral homelands. This is not just destroying lives; it is harming conservation. By supporting projects that scapegoat tribal people, WWF is diverting action away from tackling the real causes of environmental destruction: logging and corruption.
REPORT: Pandering to the loggers – Why WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network isn’t working
WWF’s flagship scheme to promote sustainable timber – the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) – is allowing companies to reap the benefits of association with WWF and its iconic panda brand, while they continue to destroy forests and trade in illegally sourced timber, a new briefing by Global Witness reveals. While GFTN is intended to reduce and eliminate such practices over the first 5 years of membership, systemic failures blight the scheme’s ability to deliver for forests.
WWF International accused of ‘selling its soul’ to corporations
John Vidal, The Guardian
WWF International, the world’s largest conservation group, has been accused of “selling its soul” by forging alliances with powerful businesses which destroy nature and use the WWF brand to “greenwash” their operations. The allegations are made in an explosive book, The Silence of the Pandas. Its author, Wilfried Huismann, says the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.
Petition: WWF and Industry- the Pact with the Panda
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The 8 Most Notorious Greenwashers
Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones
Everyone seems to be promoting themselves as “green” or “natural” in some way or another these days, tapping into the zeitgeist of sustainability. That includes things that aren’t really green by any stretch of the imagination—things like fossil fuel trade groups, car companies, and big box stores. The Green Life, a website designed to help people make greener consumer choices, decided to host a competition to recognize the biggest “greenwashers” out there. Perhaps it’s no surprise, but the list their readers came up with includes some familiar faces.