2009 Conservation Achievements So Far
WWF has enjoyed many significant conservation achievements across the past year. Below are a few success stories highlighting exciting results, but also emphasizing our continuous commitment to confront the ongoing challenges faced by our planet.
The recent passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act by the U.S. House of Representatives is America's biggest step to date in responding to the energy and climate crises. This landmark move to cap greenhouse gas emissions and jumpstart a clean energy economy came at a crucial time, given the increasing urgency of the climate change problem and the approaching international climate change talks in Copenhagen in December. WWF actively engaged on Capitol Hill to help shape the legislation and to ensure that it sets the stage for constructive international negotiations this fall. In addition, WWF's Conservation Action Network activists helped push the bill to passage in the House.
The world has come together to take a stand against climate change, as demonstrated during WWF's Earth Hour this past March. Businesses and individuals around the globe turned out their lights for one hour to send an unmistakable message to world leaders: "We need action on climate change now!" Even with the recent passage of the legislation in the House, WWF's work is not yet done. We are now working to see the bill strengthened and passed in the Senate before the end of 2009.
This summer, WWF launched an initiative with Fundación Carlos Slim, the Mexican federal government and other partners to establish Mexico as a global model for conservation. This program aims to protect Mexico's rich natural heritage and promote sustainable development within six priority regions that collectively represent 30 percent of the country. Our strategy will include efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, develop comprehensive water management policies, strengthen civil society, develop innovative financial mechanisms and invest in local sustainable economies.
On the marine conservation front, we saw great success this May: the presidents and prime ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste adopted one of the most comprehensive and specific plans ever for ocean conservation. The 10-year plan sets time-bound steps to address growing threats to the Coral Triangle's reefs, fisheries, mangroves, threatened species and other marine and coastal areas. The plan's adoption sets an important example before the upcoming international climate negotiations in December, when world leaders will gather to agree on a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
New Protected Areas
This past winter, WWF was intimately involved in establishing Bhutan's Wangchuck Centennial Park, the country's second-largest park—and the only place on Earth where the habitat of snow leopards and tigers intersect. WWF helped conduct surveys and assisted with the development of the park's preliminary management plan.
In Indonesia, WWF has been working to help implement Sumatra's historic island-wide commitment to protect what remains of the species-rich forests and critical areas—key habitat for tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos. This landmark project follows on the heels of Sumatra's recent expansion of Tesso Nilo National Park to more than double its previous size. Both achievements are the result of WWF's successful partnerships, local-to-global strategy and foundation in solid science.
WWF works with producers and businesses that use agricultural products in their supply chains to promote better practices and measurably reduce the most significant impacts of production on the planet's water, air, soil and biological diversity. We have established a market transformation strategy for key commodities like beef, cocoa, cotton, palm oil, sugar and soy.
WWF is currently assessing the world's major users of palm oil, which is found in everything from cosmetics to ice cream to chocolate bars. Certified sustainable palm oil, available since last November, provides assurance that valuable tropical forests have not been cleared and that environmental and social safeguards have been met during production. WWF helped set up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil as an international body for the industry to develop sustainability standards. Today, however, only one percent of the sustainable palm oil available on the market has been bought. WWF's Palm Oil Buyer's Scorecard will spotlight companies and the extent to which they have supported sustainable palm oil and fulfilled their commitments to purchase it.
Since the May 2008 earthquake that devastated southwest China's Sichuan Province, WWF and our humanitarian partners have been caring for pandas on the impacted reserves and lessening the suffering of the neighboring communities. We've been rebuilding infrastructure and equipment within the panda reserves and providing monitoring and patrolling equipment. We have also supplied technical and financial support during field surveys and helped set up temporary monitoring posts within the hardest-hit reserves.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a recent count showed that the number of mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park increased over the past 16 months despite the war being waged in and around the area. Although this is good news, we remain vigilant as this critically endangered species is under constant threat. WWF continues to work with partners in the region, helping to reduce the poaching, habitat encroachment and other threats to gorillas.