WWF's Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework

Fisherman in their boats, Ilha de Mafamede, Mozambique.

Safeguards play a vital role in achieving WWF’s vision. They guide how we engage local communities to plan and manage our work to improve and protect their lives, rights, and livelihoods while conserving nature and wildlife.

Safeguards are designed to manage risks, uphold human rights, and ensure conservation projects deliver better outcomes for communities and nature. WWF uses safeguards to identify, avoid, and mitigate any negative social and environmental impacts within our work. We apply safeguards in the design, implementation, and monitoring of all of our activities.

WWF’s enhanced Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework establishes a common set of standards, policies, planning and implementation mechanisms, and compliance systems that govern how activities on-the-ground are carried out. This framework has been adopted by the entire WWF Network to ensure consistent, comprehensive application of safeguards across all that we do.

The Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework includes the following features:

  • Safeguards screening to surface risks, including those related to community safety, access to natural resources, and Indigenous People.
  • Sound actions to address risk through the development of mitigation plans, implementation measures, and oversight systems.
  • Quality assurance and accountability to ensure appropriate risk management, including through the engagement of qualified safeguards experts.
  • Community participation throughout project design, implementation, and monitoring. Grievance mechanisms will be set up for stakeholders to voice any project-related concerns they have so action can be taken.
  • A Global Safeguards Unit that centralizes information and provides assistance, quality assurance, and training, as well as other activities needed for effective implementation.
  • An independent ombudsperson that will oversee compliance with the safeguards framework across WWF and serve as a means for mediation when disputes cannot be settled locally.

A new way to safeguard WWF's conservation work

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Where reports of abuse relate to landscapes or to partners that have received our support, our practice is to investigate, engage communities, take appropriate actions, and press the government to take corrective measures.

WWF understands that lasting conservation and community development go hand-in-hand. People are at the heart of all we do. Through this safeguards framework, WWF is furthering our commitment to drive sustainable development, uphold human rights, and advance the social and economic well-being of people in the places where we operate around the world.