2018 Annual Report

“Technology, like conservation, is a living discipline. And technological breakthroughs give us tools to employ in our quest to ensure a world where people and nature thrive.

Of course, all the technology in the world can’t replace conservation in its purest form: person to person, community driven, boots on the ground. Technology is an enhancer and a multiplier, but it will never substitute for a human touch. Luckily, that’s WWF’s specialty. But we’re always seeking new approaches that push conservation forward, and technology is a powerful partner in that process. "

Neville Isdell WWF Board Chairman
Carter RobertsWWF President and CEO

Accelerating Implementation of the Paris Agreement

Charles Barfknecht, a saddle maker and land owner.

WWF is committed to delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement to slow climate change. To do that, we’ve helped unite a host of unlikely partners to drive climate action. Through the Science-Based Targets Initiative, WWF is helping more than 488 companies—and counting—set ambitious carbon-cutting goals. Through the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, we’re helping hundreds of businesses buy more renewable energy and fight for cleaner electricity grids. And through coalitions like We Are Still In, we’re uniting politically powerful voices—business, universities, and local government—to uphold the Paris Agreement.

We’re also tackling land stewardship. Land use generates 24% of greenhouse gas pollution and drives forest loss, habitat destruction, and waste. Improving land use patterns could produce up to 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030. So as part of the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit coalition, WWF is calling on companies, states, and local leaders to cut waste, reduce excess consumption, improve the efficiency of food systems, and work together toward more sustainable production in landscapes around the world.

Forensics for Forests

Wood at the cellular level.

Many wood species look identical to the naked eye, especially in the case of finished wood products. Unfortunately, this means that certain wood products entering the US—one of the world’s biggest wood importers—are illegal, and that a few enter the country under false species claims. But with forensic wood anatomy, a powerful magnifying lens allows scientists to spot distinguishing details at the cellular level. At the US Forest Service Forest Products Lab, scientists use magnification to compare the anatomical structure of wood samples with species in reference libraries to determine the accuracy of species claims.

In 2017, WWF provided the lab with 183 specimens from 73 wood products sold online in the US. The scientists are now using wood anatomy testing to verify the accuracy of species labeling. The project—CSI for Trees—aims to enlighten companies about the mislabeling of wood products and help them avoid bringing illegal wood products into the US.

Securing Water for Future Generations: Science, Planning, and a Water Conservation App

Child jumping into the water.

While most countries deal with water crises when they arise, on June 5th Mexico took the long view by establishing 300 new water reserves. This system—which WWF played an instrumental role in developing—sets aside 55% of the country’s surface water, ensuring water supplies for 45 million people over the next 50 years and positively impacting several river basins. This includes the Usumacinta, one of Mexico’s last free-flowing rivers, which snakes through almost 600 miles of southern Mexico, supporting an array of plant and animal species, including jaguars. Now, 95% of the river’s volume is allocated to nature.

To demonstrate the value of all rivers, WWF also developed an augmented reality app. Released in March 2018, the WWF Free Rivers app uses a virtual landscape and interactive storytelling to show users how people, wildlife, and landscapes depend on healthy, free-flowing rivers. The app has been downloaded over a half million times.

Two Technologies Boost Seafood Trade Transparency

Orsui Bello samples the temperature and quality of Tuna for the export market at Tabaco City port, Philippines.

The fishing industry supports hundreds of millions of jobs worldwide, and billions of people get their protein from the sea. But one-third of fisheries worldwide have been pushed beyond their limits, and the black-market fish trade—worth more than $36 billion every year—is further straining those precious resources. To turn the crisis around, WWF has been collaborating on the development of technologies that increase transparency in the fishing industry.

An online tool named “Detect IT: Fish” uses big data to spot discrepancies in reported import and export data, which could be indicators of illegal activity. Launched in November 2017 by WWF and TRAFFIC, and powered by HPE Vertica, Detect IT: Fish helps authorities more efficiently deploy their limited resources for investigations.

In the Pacific, WWF is working with industry partners to pilot the application of blockchain technology to trace tuna from origin to sale. Blockchain’s virtually tamper-proof digital records provide the market with information that can engender greater trust in a product’s origin.

A Toolkit Transforms Hotel Kitchens

Reaching into a bin of compost waste

Over the past two years, WWF and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, launched a series of food waste reduction pilot projects in hotels across the country. Participating properties learned how to sort and measure food waste, how to compost or donate it, and—most important—how to prevent it in the first place.

In just 12 weeks, participating hotels saw food waste reductions of at least 10%. The pilot projects, along with additional qualitative research and prototyping experiments, informed the development of a toolkit of food waste prevention strategies for the hospitality industry, and a corresponding online platform— Hotel | Kitchen (hotelkitchen.org)—that went live in November 2017.

The pilot projects are being adopted on a broader scale through a regional industry process in Baltimore and Portland, Oregon, and have been shared with partners in the Asia Pacific region. We’re also working to share the resources with our partners in the Caribbean and Brazil.

Big Tech Companies Unite to Stop Online Wildlife Crime

Woman using laptop.

Wildlife trafficking is increasingly happening online. Just ask one of two dozen cyber spotters scouring the internet for illegal wildlife products. The cyber spotters—a team of volunteer “Panda Ambassadors” who received training from WWF—now routinely find and flag suspicious ads and products online.

WWF’s online trafficking team and a host of online companies have pulled thousands of illicit ads in the past year. And in March 2018, the world’s top e-commerce, social media, and technology companies announced the creation of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. The coalition’s 21 members—which include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay, and Alibaba—have partnered with coalition founders WWF, TRAFFIC, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare to ban illegal wildlife products online, build companies’ ability to enforce those bans, and share their expertise. Together with WWF, coalition members are tackling digital wildlife trafficking at an industry-wide level and helping us reach our vision to cut it by 80% by 2020.