About our Environmental and Social safeguards

In June 2019 the WWF Network Executive Team agreed to adopt the Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) to ensure consistent comprehensive application of safeguards across the entire WWF network. The safeguards were designed as a risk mitigation management system but also to increase the positive impacts of our field-based work from the perspective of all stakeholders, including communities.

Core components of the E&S Safeguards framework

  • A framework document, first publicly posted in August 2019, that includes policy commitments and procedural detail on implementation 
  • Nine safeguard standards, each dedicated to a specific safeguard topic
  • A tiered network-wide grievance mechanism which strengthens existing arrangements to address and resolve complaints
  • A response protocol to immediately escalate any complaints relating to human rights

© Yoon S. Byun / WWF-US

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What are our safeguards?

WWF's Environmental and Social Safeguards are designed to ensure our conservation and regeneration efforts do not have unintended adverse social or environmental impacts and protect human rights. They form a set of standards, policies, mechanisms, and compliance systems that govern how our field-based activities are carried out. They ensure a consistency of approach across the entire WWF network.

The core elements are:

  1. One Set of Standards for all WWF field-based work
  2. Makes clear who is responsible
  3. Ensures additional measures in high-risk contexts
  4. A centralized unit and training for support
  5. Monitoring and checkpoints are part of the project development cycle
  6. Independent ombudsperson ensures impartiality and credibility
  7. Applied at landscape/seascape level to ensure efficiency & effectiveness

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WWF’s Safeguard Standards explained

© James Morgan / WWF-US

The E&S Safeguards Framework document

This document provides an overview, at both policy and procedural level, on how WWF manages the environmental and social risks of its place-based work to deliver better conservation outcomes and enhance the social well-being of communities in the places where we operate. The framework describes the linkage between social policies and safeguards and outlines the standards, roles and responsibilities, processes, monitoring and compliance systems that govern how field-based activities are undertaken. It also outlines WWF's public disclosure commitments for the landscapes and seascapes where it works.

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© Luis Barreto / WWF-UK

STANDARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL RISK MANAGEMENT

We will assess E&S risk, understand its implications, and seek to avoid, minimise or mitigate it.

This standard describes WWF’s process for identifying potential environmental and social risks and benefits.

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© WWF / Simon Rawles

STANDARD ON STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

We engage and work with stakeholders

This standard ensures that WWF is committed to meaningful, effective, and informed stakeholder engagement with potentially impacted communities in the design and implementation of activities within landscapes.

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STANDARD ON GRIEVANCE MECHANISMS

We take all complaints and concerns seriously and seek their resolution

This standard prescribes how affected peoples can raise concerns about how they are being impacted by WWF activities and seek their resolution.

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© Thomas Cristofoletti / WWF-US

STANDARD ON RESTRICTION OF ACCESS AND RESETTLEMENT

We don't want anyone to be unfairly penalized due to a restriction of access

This standard helps WWF identify and respond to restriction of access, proposed resettlement and economic displacement or other economic impacts associated with WWF activities.

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STANDARD ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Indigenous Peoples are key partners and consent-holders

This standard ensures that all due consideration is taken in WWF activities that could potentially affect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including free, prior, and informed consent. 

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© Ami Vitale / WWF-UK

STANDARD ON COMMUNITY HEALTH & SECURITY

Communities should feel safe, secure and their well-being protected

This standard makes sure a review of potential consequences to communities’ health and safety are adequately addressed, including consequences of engagement with rangers.

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© Thomas Cristofoletti / WWF-US

STANDARD ON PROTECTION OF NATURAL HABITATS

Where we support projects that change land use, we always ensure the protection of natural habitats

This standard ensures mitigation of any potential negative impact on natural habitats.

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© Andy Isaacson / WWF-US

STANDARD ON PEST MANAGEMENT

We support safe pest management in projects by rejecting and excluding the use of harmful techniques or products

This standard ensures the review and proper use of pesticides and fertilizers in order to mitigate impacts on communities and natural habitats.

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© Sonja Ritter / WWF

STANDARD ON CULTURAL RESOURCES

We protect and respect cultural resources - tangible, intangible and natural

This WWF standard ensures that cultural resources - tangible, natural and intangible are appropriately preserved and their destruction or damage is avoided.

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© Karine Aigner/WWF-US

DOCUMENTS BY TOPIC

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.

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.

Human rights

We have several policies and standards in place to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights across all WWF activities.

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.

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.

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.