We respect human rights in everything that we do

WWF considers the relationship between respect for human rights and the promotion of a healthy ecosystem to be mutually inclusive. Every human being has the right to enjoy a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and a healthy environment is a necessary precondition for the fulfillment of many other human rights and human wellbeing.

Human Rights recur in various standards we commit to as an organisation. It forms part of our network’s core standards and applies to everything that we do in our network. In so doing, we respect and, to the best of our ability, protect the rights to expression and participation in relation to environmental matters, taking into account cultural and political contexts as necessary.

How we implement this commitment

We are driven by 7 guiding principles:​

  • Respect human rights
  • Advocate for governments, as duty-bearers, to fulfill their obligations
  • Promote human rights within our work
  • Identify and mitigate negative human rights impacts
  • Help protect the vulnerable
  • Encourage good governance
  • Support for rights holders

© James Morgan / WWF-US
How we apply human rights in our daily work

Next to the 7 guiding principles, we employ a human rights-based approach across all our work. We undertake assessments and other due diligence to understand human rights-related risks, both those specific to our activities and the wider social, economic, political, or other ‘contextual' factors that can influence our work. We seek to identify and mitigate any human rights risk that our field-based work may pose through the systematic application of the Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework. We engage and collaborate with communities to: 

  • Understand their rights
  • Ensure that the potential impacts of the intervention are understood
  • Participate in decision-making.

In cases where there are possible impacts to Indigenous Peoples, we will ensure a process of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) to interventions affecting the communities, or their lands, territories, and resources. We recognize the importance of conserving the cultures of the indigenous peoples and local communities, and we respect their right to a safe, clean, health and sustainable environment, their right to, access to information and participate in decision making. 

What to read

Information about WWF’s commitments on Human Rights can be found in several documents, including the WWF Policy Statement, the Network Implementation Arrangements of the ESSF, and our Response Protocol for Human Rights Abuses. These can be downloaded below.


WWF’s Environmental and Social Safeguards and Social Policies are extensive and cover many different topics. Below you can find six topics that are frequently searched for.

 Amahuaca natives. Old man Santiago with a grandson at Nuevo San Juan, a small new Amahuaca settlement along the Rio Alto Purus at the border of the Alto Purus Reserved Zone, department Ucayali, Peru. Santiago and his native group lived isolated as hunter-gatherer along the headwaters of the Rio Alto Purus and Rio Inuya until 1975, when they had first contacts with the outside world.

Indigenous Peoples and Free, Prior and Informed Consent

The rights of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold their consent to actions that will affect them.

 Nepal hay NDCs

Human rights

We have several policies and standards in place to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights across all WWF activities.
 The Monkoto female police force. Monkoto, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Law enforcement

Conservation law enforcement is carried out by WWF partners. To ensure this is done ethically and in line with international law, we have several protocols in place in the landscapes/projects we work on.
 Entrance gate to the CAMIRON mine in the South-east of Cameroon.

Excluded Activities

This list outlines activities that WWF prohibits from its activities or funding.

Grievance Mechanisms

WWF is committed to strengthening its accountability towards the communities we work with. This page outlines our approach to ensure these communities can raise their concerns or express complaints about unintended negative impacts from our work and seek resolution.  
People working with WWF plant mangroves in the western coastal region of Madagascar. A mangrove, a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water, are key to a healthy marine ecology, providing shelter to crabs and shrimps, and reducing soil erosion. Birds, sea turtles, and dugongs, an endangered marine sea mammal, all use mangroves. The land-sea barrier is also an extremely efficient way to retain CO2, thus contributing to climate protection, says WWF.

Gender Equality

WWF recognizes the importance of promoting gender equality across the entire organization and applying its principles to all our work. Our gender policy guides this effort.