WWF-US works in countries as diverse as Namibia and Nepal and Mexico, but our roots are firmly planted in the United States. In our first year, three of the five grants made by our Board of Directors supported domestic projects. More than 50 years later, our in-country work remains an anchor of our conservation portfolio.
Of course our extraordinary continent boasts places that would make any short list of the most important places on Earth—from the Arctic marine ecosystems to the Northern Great Plains to the Chihuahuan Desert—and the United States sits on the list of the world's 10 most mega-diverse countries. Then there is our country’s unique significance in global climate negotiations, popular culture, corporate leadership, technological innovation and resource consumption. No matter how you look at it, the U.S. has a special set of responsibilities to uphold in the global environmental community.
Some of WWF’s most stirring work centers here at home. We’re helping to restore the iconic landscape of the Northern Great Plains, and working with the Oglala-Lakota tribe to create the first tribal national park and a wildlife management plan for the same. We’re knitting together sustainability commitments from companies like Walmart, Procter and Gamble and Mars, and crafting new approaches to combating wildlife trade with Google and the U.S. State Department. And we’re working to protect the pristine, vulnerable Arctic and its inhabitants from the advancing realities of climate change and the ravages of oil and gas development.
In June we'll host the WWF global Network's annual conference at one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Grand Teton National Park. We’ll be just an hour south of Yellowstone, which was established in 1872 as the world’s first national park—an idea that has been replicated in more than 200 countries, with appropriate adjustments made for local needs, circumstances and customs.
Ultimately, while we do have a special obligation to the world, being true to that obligation starts here at home—by making our own lives more efficient, and by making the lives of our communities and institutions more efficient as well. And it continues by engaging our governments, businesses and universities in considering the future of the planet in every decision they make.