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President's letter: How scientific knowledge and local wisdom inform our work

The greatest truth about conservation is that the work is never done.

WWF has always understood that conservation is a constant work in progress, full of complexities and dualities, much like the nature we seek to save. And so our efforts must always be focused, inclusive, nimble, and designed to endure.

We have recently been reminded of the profound importance of two things as inputs into our work: the best available science and the wisdom of communities in designing solutions. We must always be questioning and testing our hypotheses about the tools we use, and measuring them against the difference they’re making in saving the natural world and improving people’s lives.

By the same token, we know we need to ensure that communities have a seat at the table in designing, implementing, and evaluating this work. The conservation initiatives that last will be those that benefit communities, are owned by communities, and are supported by partners and governments as well.

Carter Roberts headshot

Carter Roberts
President & CEO, WWF

“We must always be questioning... the tools we use, and measuring them against the difference they’re making in saving the natural world and improving people’s lives.”

Carter Roberts
President & CEO, WWF

With all this in mind we have doubled down on our work in places like Alaska, Fiji, and the Pantanal in South America, to apply the finest kind of system-level thinking to everything we do. This means not just understanding the ecology of a place—how the forests or rivers or wildlife function—but also understanding the culture of the place, the economy of the region, and the many agendas of the key constituencies who live there. Then, operating on the basis of that understanding, we work with communities, governments, and private-sector partners to identify the precise actions that we can take in partnership with others to ensure that the place, and the people and the species it supports, can survive and thrive over the long run.

Whether in the case of Fiji, where WWF just completed a survey of the Great Sea Reef; or Alaska, where coastal communities are adapting to climate change; or the Pantanal, where rapid development has increased the need for robust conservation, you’ll find within the pages of this issue not just the inspiration and glory of these places, but also the wisdom and the learning that both science and communities have to offer. Because as the world’s conservation needs evolve, we must also take care that our work in service to those needs will endure.

Carter Roberts

President and CEO

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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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