About our social policies

WWF understands that conservation and regeneration are about people, their behavior, and their attitude towards nature. The decisions people take in making efforts to conserve nature are highly interlinked with culture, wealth, ethnicity, religion, and gender. This complex system of beliefs and values can create connections - but also disputes - between people. To ensure the protection of both people and nature, our social policies guide all WWF activities. The three policies are described in more detail below.

Why are the social policies needed?

Many of the world’s most precious natural areas are under threat, but they are also home to rural communities and Indigenous Peoples whose livelihoods and cultures are closely dependent on the natural environment. Therefore the success of our work depends on the degree to which it contributes to the maintenance and preservation of biodiversity; and to the well-being of the people and communities that live in, or rely on them. Our social policies guide us towards this goal.

© Sonja Ritter / WWF

© Nikky Lenstra & Eva Peet / Fronteer - Assets by Storyset

What ARE our social policies?

Our social policies outline a set of social commitments and principles that give guidance for the implementation of our conservation agenda, partnerships, communications and policy advocacy.

Download overview
WWF’s social policies explained
 Nepal hay NDCs
© Emmanuel Rondeau / WWF-US


We respect human rights in everything that we do

While the protection of human rights lies with governments (i.e. as the ‘duty-bearer’), WWF recognizes that businesses and organizations, including ours, have an important role in contributing to positive human rights outcomes. WWF is committed to respecting and promoting internationally proclaimed human rights as contained in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Human rights recur in various standards we commit to as an organization. It forms part of our network’s core standards and informs everything that we do. The implementation of our commitment to human rights is driven by 7 guiding principles. Download the full policy to learn more.

 Ishmael Said with group of people in a mangrove in Mozambique.
© James MORGAN


We treat gender equality as a right in all our work

Our gender policy statement signifies our ongoing commitment to equity and integrating a gender perspective in our policies, programs, and projects, as well as in our institutional structure. WWF recognizes the importance of promoting gender equality across the entire organization. WWF wants to contribute to a society in which women, men, boys, girls, and people of other gender minorities, have access to the same opportunities, rights, and obligations in all spheres of life. It is part of our broader commitment to strengthen the social dimensions of our projects, programs, and policy work. Download the full policy to learn more. 

A sing-sing performance by Enuk villagers. The strong culture of Papua New Guinea shines through during such occasions, when villagers sing and dance to show off their traditional rituals and identity. It is a powerful, earthy performance. Also known as laklakau in their own Tigak language, a sing-sing is performed as a celebration on many occasionsÄîat the end of a school year, as thanksgiving, or when an important person comes to visit the village. Enuk Island, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea 19 June 2010
© Jürgen Freund / WWF


We respect and promote rights for Indigenous Peoples

WWF’s Indigenous Peoples and Conservation Policy Statement reflects our dedication to respecting the human and development rights of Indigenous Peoples. The close ties of Indigenous Peoples with their customary lands, waters, and natural resources are particularly relevant for conservation organizations, leading to recognition of Indigenous Peoples as important stewards of high-biodiversity areas. The policy statement helps to strengthen our respect, recognition, and protection of the distinct and differentiated rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the equal roles and rights of women and youths within those peoples. We are learning from Indigenous Peoples and partnering with them in order to conserve the local communities. Download the full policy to learn more.

© Staffan Widstrand / WWF
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.

 Kogi children standing in a small stream in the Tayrona National Park of Colombia.

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.