While a certain wedding may be catching headlines across the world this week, here at Green Abode, we’re more excited by a special anniversary. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) turns 50 this Friday 29 April, and we’ll be getting the bunting out and celebrating the organisation’s tireless campaigning over the last half-century.
WWF was founded back in 1961 in response to Africa’s dwindling rhino and elephant populations, and is now the world’s leading independent environmental organisation. Working in more than 90 countries, it has more than 5 million supporters worldwide and currently supports more than a thousand environmental and conservation projects.
It’s hard to overstate how influential it’s been on the worldwide conservation movement, making an impact from its inception. Early successes included setting up ranger schools and national parks in Africa, before WWF set its sights on conservation projects further afield. The 1970s saw an increase in activity, with campaigns targeting the rainforests, Indian tigers and China’s giant pandas.
Moving into the 1980s, WWF pioneered the concept of sustainable development and was at the forefront of the anti-whaling movement and the successful push for a ban on the ivory trade.
As WWF has developed, it’s not only been successful in campaigning for species and habitat conservation abroad, but has also been active promoting sustainable development in the UK. It even helped get teaching about sustainable development on the National Curriculum. To celebrate its enormous contribution over the years the Royal Mail has just launched a series of WWF 50th anniversary stamps.
WWF also organises the annual Earth Hour. From its first outing in 2007, it has grown to an event where big organisations, landmarks and millions of people around the world are encouraged to switch off their lights for one hour. Landmarks like Big Ben, the London Eye, Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House all pulled the plug for Earth Hour 2011, helping to show that we want to reduce the impact our energy system has on our planet.
With all this activity, it’s no surprise that the WWF panda symbol has become an iconic image, and we wish this inspiring organisation all the very best for its next 50 years championing conservation and wildlife causes.
If you want to help, you could join WWF or, importantly, think about making small changes to the way you live to conserve energy and reduce its impact on the natural environment.