Influencing U.S. Government Policy

Overview

ADVANCING POLICIES TO HELP PEOPLE AND NATURE

WWF advocates for strong policies and funding to promote a future in which both people and nature can thrive. Working closely with Congress and partner agencies including USAID, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Interior, NOAA, the Department of State, and the Department of Agriculture, WWF’s Policy and Government Affairs team works to ensure U.S. government leadership on conservation both at home and abroad.

It’s not all election-year gridlock. US policies to protect nature are advancing in Congress and the states

Just a few months into 2024, several bills that WWF is advocating for at the federal and state levels curb plastic pollution, invest in biodiversity conservation, conserve forests, and reduce food waste are advancing with strong bipartisan support.

A group of people in WWF shirts stand in a line in front of the US Capitol Building

Why It Matters

  • Helping People, Wildlife and Forests in Viet Nam

    Decades of illegal logging and wildlife trade, poaching, and agricultural conversion in Viet Nam threaten vital ecosystems and exacerbate poverty in vulnerable communities. WWF is working with USAID, in coordination with the Government of Viet Nam, local communities, and other conservation partners, on the Biodiversity Conservation and Saving Threatened Wildlife projects to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and deforestation to conserve Viet Nam’s rich biodiversity while helping local communities develop sustainable sources of income.

  • Enhancing Flood Resilience in Pakistan

    Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan in 2022 demonstrated the urgency of the climate crisis. The Recharge Pakistan project – a collaboration between Pakistan's Ministry of Climate Change and the Federal Flood Commission, local communities, the Green Climate Fund, USAID, WWF and the Coca-Cola Foundation – works to reduce the region’s vulnerability to climate change through enhanced flood risk management. The $77.8 million partnership is the largest investment at the national level to date in an ecosystem-based approach to flood and water resources management.

  • Partnering with Indigenous Communities in the Amazon

    Indigenous people's active participation in the sustainable economic, cultural and environmental development of the Amazon is essential for the long-term conservation of the world's largest tropical rainforest. The USAID-funded Amazon Indigenous Rights and Resources project, managed by WWF in coordination with indigenous organizations and nonprofit partners, supports educational resources to expand indigenous leaders’ capacities in Brazil, Colombia and Peru, and helps indigenous enterprises with business development.

  • Stopping Wildlife Crime in Namibia and Kaza

    Illegal poaching poses a dire threat to numerous species in southern Africa, including elephants and rhinos. USAID and WWF launched the six-year Combating Wildlife Crime Project in 2017 to stabilize the populations of black rhinos in Namibia and elephants in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), including by working closely with local authorities to enhance their wildlife crime surveillance capacity using new technology and modernized field procedures. By the project’s conclusion in June 2023, there had been no reports of illegal killings of black rhinos in northwest Namibia in three years. And a multi-country survey of elephants in the KAZA area – which is home to half of Africa’s remaining elephants – found that the total population is stable.

  • Increasing Civil Society Participation in Greater Mekong Environmental Management

    Countries across the Greater Mekong – including Burma, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam – face environmental challenges such as deforestation and water quality degradation that are often driven by poorly planned development, natural resource crime and corruption. The USAID-funded Mekong for the Future project implemented by WWF works increase the capacity of civil society organizations and citizens to engage in natural resource management policy development.

  • Targeting Natural Resource Corruption

    Corruption undermines sustainable natural resource management efforts, drives resources away from the public good and into private hands, and facilitates nature crimes. The USAID-funded Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) project focused from 2018-2024 on harnessing knowledge, generating evidence, and supporting innovative policy and practice for more effective anti-corruption programming to conserve wildlife, fisheries, and forests. TNRC was a Leader with Associates award, implemented by WWF, in partnership with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, TRAFFIC, and the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, in collaboration with the Basel Institute on Governance.

What WWF Is Doing

CONSERVATION AT HOME AND ABROAD

WWF advocates for strong U.S. federal policies and funding for international conservation, working closely with Congress and partner agencies, including USAID, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the State Department. WWF also advocates for strong domestic policies to combat climate change, protect endangered species, and conserve important American landscapes and seascapes, including the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains and the Alaskan Arctic.

Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation

Bison herd and newborn calves, Wolakota Buffalo Range, Rosebud Sioux Reservation

WWF advocates for U.S. government policies and funding to promote the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity and halt the drivers of species loss globally, including habitat destruction, illegal wildlife trade, and human-wildlife conflict. WWF has a particular focus on the role that U.S. government programs play in supporting conservation in developing countries, which are home to some of our planet’s richest ecosystems. These include projects supported by USAID’s Biodiversity Conservation programs, Combating Wildlife Trafficking programs at USAID and the Department of State, and the Multinational Species Conservation Funds run by USFWS. WWF also advocates for bipartisan legislation that would mobilize new conservation investments at home and abroad, such as the U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act and Recovering America's Wildlife Act. WWF further supports measures to defend the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s primary law protecting species from extinction, and restore iconic American wildlife like the black-footed ferret and the American bison.

FORESTS AND LAND USE

Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

WWF supports policies to halt and reverse the destruction of forests and critical landscapes, which is intricately connected to some of the most pressing problems we face: climate change, biodiversity loss, wildfires, corruption and weak governance. WWF advocates to mobilize large-scale public and private funding for the conservation, management, and restoration of critical ecosystems, such as the Amazon, including through debt-for-nature swaps under the innovative Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Act, as well as policies to tackle the illegal and unsustainable production of key commodities that drive significant forest, grassland and habitat loss globally. WWF further advocates for lawmakers to adopt the bipartisan FOREST Act to halt imports of agricultural products linked to illegal deforestation and associated abuses and fully enforce the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008, the landmark law that made the U.S. the first country to ban trafficking of products containing illegally sourced wood.

OCEANS AND ILLEGAL FISHING

A school of Jack fish in the waters off the coast of Vanua Levu, Fiji

Preventing Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is a major part of WWF’s advocacy to protect the world’s oceans. That’s why WWF advocates for policies that ensure all seafood imported into the U.S. marketplace has been caught legally and sustainably, including by strengthening the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Seafood Import Monitoring Program. WWF also works closely with federal agencies and Congress to reduce threats to marine life in the Arctic and other regions, including from oil and gas development, and to support the creation and expansion of marine protected areas to benefit both biodiversity and coastal communities.

FOOD AND FRESHWATER SYSTEMS

Irrigation Sprinkler Spraying Water on Farm Field

Healthy ecosystems are foundational to both food and water security. But unsustainable agricultural practices are a major driver of nature loss. And the overexploitation of freshwater resources is undermining human wellbeing and the health of critical ecosystems. Meanwhile, roughly 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted every year. That's why WWF is a founding supporter of the Zero Food Waste Coalition and advocates for policies that reduce waste, such as the NO TIME TO Waste Act, Zero Food Waste Act, and the Food Date Labeling Act. WWF urges Congress to pass a Farm Bill incorporating funding and policy recommendations that would invest in American farmers, ranchers and forest-owners to conserve critical habitats such as native grasslands in the Northern Great Plains and build a more resilient food system.

CLIMATE CHANGE

An ice lagoon is seen on a melting glacier in, Jokulsarlon, Iceland

WWF works to advance federal, state and international policies to ensure the U.S. meets its global commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent and invest in the ability of developing countries to do the same while building their resilience to worsening climate impacts. This includes working to ensure the successful implementation of the historic climate and clean energy investments contained in the Inflation Reduction Act and advocating with Congress to provide robust international climate finance as part of its annual funding bills.

REDUCING PLASTIC WASTE

Plastic litter washed up on Watamu beach. Watamu, Kenya.

WWF’s No Plastic in Nature initiative aims to stop the flow of plastic into nature by 2030. WWF's approach brings together all stakeholders — government, businesses, and the public — to reduce the consumption of plastic while establishing more consistency in how people reuse and recycle it. At the state and federal levels, WWF is advocating for reduced reliance on single-use plastics as well as Extended Producer Responsibility measures to ensure that companies creating plastic waste are responsible for reducing their plastic footprint. Globally, WWF is one of the leading NGOs advocating for governments to agree to an ambitious and equitable United Nations global treaty to end plastic pollution.

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