5 ways WWF is advocating for strong US policies to protect nature in 2024

View of the US Capitol Building from the National Mall showing a statue of a person on a horse and the big white building in the background on a sunny day

We are currently grappling with two intertwined global crises: climate change and the loss of nature.

And as we begin another year that could set yet another record level of global warming, it’s more essential than ever that the US asserts leadership in addressing threats to the environment.

We made major strides in 2023 to protect nature in the face of these challenges. Dozens of nations, including the US, signed a United Nations treaty to conserve the world’s oceans, while world leaders released the first draft of a new agreement that would tackle plastic pollution. WWF’s dedicated activists were a critical part of these victories.

But many major policy debates with sweeping ramifications for nature lie ahead in the coming months. Here are five ways WWF will be advocating for stronger conservation policies in 2024:

1. Investing in wildlife and biodiversity conservation

Reversing nature loss amid a warming climate will require substantial resources to meet the growing challenges we face. WWF’s 2022 Living Planet Report revealed that the size of wildlife populations around the globe have declined by 69% on average in just 50 years.

WWF is urging lawmakers to start by renewing existing successful conservation programs and providing additional support through new ones. Committees in both the House and Senate have advanced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Multinational Species Conservation Funds at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which support efforts to protect elephants, rhinos, tigers, great apes, and sea turtles in the wild. The bills would renew these funds, which expired in 2023, for an additional five years. Both chambers of Congress must approve this legislation before it can be signed by the president into law.

We are also advocating for a bipartisan bill that would create a new entity called the US Foundation for International Conservation to unlock additional resources for nature preservation. It would authorize up to $100 million a year to contribute to public-private partnerships, a critical part of WWF’s work, to support effective management of protected and conserved areas around the world—including helping local communities better manage wildlife and natural resources.

These important conservation initiatives can only move forward if lawmakers provide the necessary funding. Lawmakers should ensure that funding for biodiversity conservation initiatives around the globe through agencies like USAID and USFWS remains robust as they set overall spending levels for the federal government.

2. Reducing plastic waste

WWF is planning a steady drumbeat of action this year to urge our leaders to enact policies that reduce plastic waste. We believe the White House, Congress, and global leaders all have a role to play in stopping the flow of millions of tons of plastic into our environment.

That’s why our annual Lobby Day on Thursday, March 7, will focus on the urgency of reducing plastic waste. WWF activists and staff will be on Capitol Hill to call on lawmakers to advance policies that would expand plastic recycling, reuse, and reduction.

At the global level, nations moved closer to a treaty to address plastic pollution in 2023 at the latest round of talks in mid-November. While much more progress needs to be made, these discussions showed that most nations want the treaty to address the entire lifespan of plastic and that there is strong business support for establishing global rules. WWF will be advocating for a robust agreement at the next round of negotiations in Ottawa, Canada, in April to ensure that nations address the crisis of plastic waste before it's too late. More than 2 million WWF activists to date have signed a petition calling for an ambitious treaty from global leaders.

3. Stopping illegal deforestation

Members of the House and Senate reintroduced the landmark Fostering Overseas Rule of Law and Environmentally Sound Trade (FOREST) Act in December with strong support from WWF. This bipartisan bill would stop imports of agricultural products linked to illegal deforestation, removing this illegality from the cattle, palm oil, rubber, and cocoa products we use and consume every day.

Halting illegal deforestation and nature loss is essential to protecting people and wild places, tackling international crime, and addressing the climate crisis. The bill would bring responsible businesses, governments, and civil society together to halt one of the most pressing threats we face.

WWF is urging members of Congress to advance the FOREST Act and will continue to strongly advocate for policies at the federal and state levels in 2024 to protect these critical ecosystems.

4. Renewing the Farm Bill

Lawmakers recently extended through September the farm and agricultural programs that shape the nation’s food production. WWF will actively engage members of Congress over the coming months to advocate for our priorities as lawmakers continue negotiations on a full five-year Farm Bill.

This year’s Farm Bill is particularly critical to advance sustainable agriculture policies that address growing threats from nature loss and climate change. Globally, food systems account for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. They are also a leading cause of deforestation and nature loss.

WWF will continue advocating for safeguarding the more than $20 billion investment in climate-smart agriculture and forestry provided by the Inflation Reduction Act; establishing strong provisions to address food loss and waste; halting the loss of grasslands, forests, and other critical ecosystems; and promoting regenerative agriculture practices to restore the health of local communities, wildlife, and landscapes.

5. Protecting our oceans

Preventing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is essential to protecting the world’s oceans. WWF is working closely with policymakers in Congress and in the Administration to advocate for strong US policies that would ensure all imported seafood is caught legally and sustainably, and that efforts to responsibly manage fisheries globally are strengthened.

Establishing safeguards on oil and gas development is also critical for protecting marine life. WWF supports the Arctic Refuge Protection Act, which would permanently prohibit any new oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the largest such refuge in the nation and home to Indigenous communities. The Biden Administration's decision to cancel oil and gas leases in the Arctic Refuge this past September was a major step in the right direction.

We can't do this alone

The help of WWF's partners, supporters, and activists is as essential as ever to our success in securing US government action to reverse the alarming rate of nature loss. We hope you’ll join us to achieve lasting policy solutions that will help people and nature thrive.

Explore ways you can take action right now to protect wildlife and wild places.

Learn more about WWF's work influencing US government policy.