The World Wakes Up to the World Wildlife Fund
Slowly, it seems, the rest of us are collectively waking up to the idea that an organization as large and as wealthy as the World Wildlife Fund deserves some scrutiny.
This past weekend Christopher Booker’s column in The Telegraph (which kindly cites my book), provides a big-picture analysis. He argues that the WWF has strayed far from its original mandate of saving endangered animals – and that some of its current projects in the developing world are highly controversial.
Ten thousand miles away, a thoughtful opinion piece has also just been published by BeefCentral.com, which describes itself as a “news and market intelligence service dedicated to the Australian beef industry.”
Titled Can producers trust WWF to be accountable?, it was written by Dale Stiller, a spokesperson for those who raise cattle in that country. He points out that while the WWF is in the business of telling other people what to do, this organization is itself “not accountable to anyone.”
Rather wisely, it seems to me, Stiller’s piece contains a warning for businesses that think that cozying up to/engaging in partnerships with the WWF is a great way to enhance their public image. The plan may backfire:
WWF is developing an unsavoury reputation that will ultimately devalue its panda brand name…
In the not-too-distant future businesses that have self-righteously slapped a WWF logo on the side of their products may find themselves receiving a call from a reporter. Does their company really think it’s OK to displace the poorest of the poor in the Third World in order to save a bit of forest? What comment would it care to make regarding the sudden departure of WWF employees in Tanzania, the suspension of funding by Norway’s government to WWF-linked projects, and the ongoing embezzlement investigation? (see here, backup link here)
For 50 years the WWF has led a charmed life. Its good intentions have been taken for granted. Its actions have been viewed through fuzzy, soft-focus spectacles. But to quote Bob Dylan:
The times they are a-changin’
The next 10 days (ending around May 16th) will be insanely busy for me. Some changes are taking place in my personal life that require an unusual amount of my attention. I’ll try to check in a few times between now and then, but this blog will resume mid-month for sure.