Toggle Nav

Respect Rights and Improve Livelihoods


Children of Bolivia

Indigenous peoples and local communities are among the most important stewards of the land. They care about natural resources – from forests to oceans to grasslands – because they depend on these resources for their livelihoods and cultures.

WWF supports conservation that respects and contributes to community rights and livelihoods. We do so through partnerships with communities based on:

  • appreciation for the contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities to conservation
  • recognition of their rights and interests
  • understanding the links between biological and cultural diversity

Saving a beloved home along the Luangwa River in Zambia

The Luangwa River is one of the longest remaining free-flowing rivers in Southern Africa. It flows through an area which boasts some of the most pristine habitats left in Zambia for elephants, lions, leopards and a myriad of other wildlife. A dam has been proposed on the Luangwa that would flood almost the entire Luembe chiefdom, destroying habitats and displacing thousands of people.  

Two women use the river to wash up while avoiding the threat of crocodiles along the Luangwa River.

What WWF Is Doing

Integrating Human Rights

WWF works to improve the practice of conservation by promoting the integration of human rights in conservation policy and practice. We do so, in part, by working with the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR), a group of international conservation non-governmental organizations.

CIHR members want to promote positive links between conservation and rights of people to secure their livelihoods, enjoy healthy and productive environments and live with dignity. WWF believes that by working collectively and sharing information we can better advance our work in this field. Other partners in this initiative are Birdlife International, Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, IUCN, The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Securing Community Rights and Benefits


Indigenous peoples and local communities are affected by climate and land use changes, and have key roles to play in addressing them. For example, global climate initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation and conserve, sustainably manage and enhance forest carbon stocks (collectively referred to as REDD+), offer potential to increase support to the forest stewardship activities of indigenous peoples and local communities by:

  • strengthening community land and resource rights
  • empowering community institutions
  • increasing income through benefit sharing

REDD+ has also sparked concern about possible adverse impacts on indigenous and community resource rights, institutions and livelihoods. WWF believes that for REDD+ to be effective in mitigating climate change, it must have strong social safeguards and benefits, including contributions to community livelihoods and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. To address these issues, WWF:

  • promotes innovative approaches to social safeguards and benefits within demonstration projects
  • shares knowledge and experience on social aspects of REDD+
  • advocates for high standards in REDD+ policy frameworks