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Updated: 5 hours 7 min ago

WWF objection prompts review of Mexican tuna fishery's impact on dolphins in the Eastern Pacific

19 hours 7 min ago
GLAND, Switzerland, 23 June 2017 – The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of an Eastern Pacific tuna fishery has been placed temporarily on hold following strong concerns raised by WWF that impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations in the region have not been fully examined and addressed. 

In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to an MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier of the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment ultimately did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.

The independent adjudicator assigned to consider WWF's objection during a hearing in May has now remanded the decision to certify the fishery. The certifier must now reconsider whether there is sufficient evidence that the fishery is not hindering the recovery of the dolphin species in question. 
 
"The existing science does not support the conclusions made in the original assessment and is insufficient to show that this fishery meets the MSC standard when considering all fishery impacts on depleted dolphins in the region," said Franck Hollander, Seafood Officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on this certification effort. 

In the waters of the Eastern Pacific, one of the techniques used for decades to catch tuna involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, a practice with a history of contributing to high dolphin mortality. Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed by this practice in recent years, it is unknown whether populations have recovered from dramatic declines that began in the late 1950s and continued though the early 1990s.

Hollander added, "Given the historical impact of the fishing technique used by this fishery, it was critical to WWF that the MSC assessment was done carefully and in strict accordance with the MSC requirements.  We are committed as a stakeholder to use our collective expertise to hold the process to account and push for the best possible outcome for the marine environment, fisheries and local communities."

WWF is calling for scientific evidence that the fishery does not likely hinder the recovery of the depleted species directly impacted in order for it to be certified. The certifier now has ten days to respond to the remand. A final decision on the certification is expected once the remand process is complete.

"As this fishery strives to meet the MSC standard, there is an opportunity for all stakeholders to work together to improve fishing practices and the availability of up-to-date scientific information on the impacted dolphin stocks," said Enrique Sanjurjo, Lead, Food Practice, WWF-Mexico.

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For more information, please contact:

Rucha Naware | WWF International | rnaware@wwfint.org | +91 961 916 0232
Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media
 

Croatia: Watershed moment for the Great Waterfall and Plitvice Lakes National Park

22. June 2017 - 2:00
Zagreb – This week, local communities living in and around Croatia's Plitvice National Park and veterans' associations came together to symbolically halt traffic at a wooden bridge near Plitvice Sela to draw attention to the numerous threats facing Croatia's only UNESCO World Heritage site.

Known worldwide for its lakes, Plitvice National Park has long attracted thousands of visitors and interest but in recent years, unprecedented pressure from tourism and ill-planned construction projects threaten to impact the park's waters and biodiversity.

Excessive water use has left the park's Great Waterfall running dry, with only 40 per cent of its maximum water capacity currently available. Unless urgent action is taken, Plitvice National Park could be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

"A series of ill-informed decisions have left Croatia's most precious natural pearl at unprecedented risk. Waste water flows, one of the impacts we are seeing of the uncontrolled increase in tourists and irresponsible construction projects in the area, are already affecting the Great Waterfall and the survival of its unique flora and fauna," said Irma Popović Dujmović, project officer, WWF-Adria. "We cannot risk losing Croatia's icon of protected nature, and the many jobs entire local communities depend on."

1.3 million people are estimated to visit Plitvice National Park annually and since 2010, overnight stays in Plitvice have increased as much as 12-fold to about 39,000. As visits increase, it is critical that the park adopts a sustainable management plan that balances the potential for growth with the need for greater environmental protection.

In the past year, the ministry of construction and spatial planning has issued permits for the construction of 35 new private apartments, bed and breakfasts and restaurants. Even the bridge where people gathered on Wednesday 21 June, is estimated to be crossed every day by dozens of trucks weighing up to 40 tonnes while its maximum capacity is stated to be 3.5 tonnes only.

WWF is calling on the Croatian ministry of construction and spatial planning to urgently start working with the ministry of environmental protection and energy to prevent the destruction of Plitvice Lakes.

In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Plitvice National Park park is also part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas requiring the Croatian government to ensure legal protection of the site against destructive projects.

"We urge the government to work together with local communities and relevant stakeholders to ensure a more sustainable management of the park. By planning projects that involve local communities and take into consideration the natural values of the park, we can ensure Plitvice's beauty and biodiversity are protected while promoting social and economic development for all," added Popović Dujmović.

A WWF report "Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development" published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.
 

WWF stands with victims' families of the devastating forest fire in Portugal

18. June 2017 - 2:00
Lisbon, 18 June 2017 – WWF expresses solidarity with the victims' families and the firemen fighting the ongoing forest fire in Pedrogão Grande, Leiria area, in the center of Portugal. WWF is deeply saddened by the numerous human victims.

The arid and flammable nature of Mediterranean forests (which include Portugal), climate change, human neglect and, above all, the lack of adequate forest management that acts to prevent forest fires, form a lethal combination that threatens forests and the security of local populations.

WWF urges the Portuguese government to take urgent action to prevent forest fires and accelerate the process of "forest reform" that began last year. The focus of efforts should shift from combating forest fires as they arise to preventing them from existing, through responsible long-term forest management. Responsible forest management is more effective and financially more efficient than financing the giant firefighting mechanisms that are employed every year. 

"We are extremelly sad and shocked by this unprecedented tragedy in terms of human victims. We strongly believe that good management practices should prevent forest fires and protect people's lives and livelihoods, "said Rui Barreira from WWF in Portugal.

"The tragedy we are living today in Portugal could happen tomorrow in any country of the Mediterranean region, as well as the world. WWF is calling all Mediterranean governments to engage in better fire prevention strategies yet this summer." added Paolo Lombardi, WWF Mediterranean Director.

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For more information, please contact: Anne Rémy, WWF Mediterranean Director of Communications
Mob. + 39 338 66 06 287 - e-mail: aremy@wwfmedpo.org
Follow us on Twitter: @WWF_Med

First UN Ocean Conference signals global goal out of reach without major new action

9. June 2017 - 2:00
New York, 9 June 2017 – On the concluding day of the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference, WWF calls for unprecedented action to achieve the agreed Ocean sustainable development goal. This comes as member states prepare to endorse a call for action that acknowledges the serious threats to the ocean from overexploitation and climate change, and the need for much greater ambition.
 
John Tanzer, Oceans Leader for WWF International, said: "This historic ocean conference has undoubtedly been the moment the ocean arrived on the main agenda for decision makers from all sectors but the momentum must build from here."
 
"A clear message from the conference is that the ambition, scale of impact and reserves of political will required to tackle the urgent, growing threats to the ocean need to be far higher, or the world will fall a long way short of its agreed global goals."
 
"Notable at this meeting was the clear recognition of how serious the threats are to the ocean and coasts, from widespread habitat destruction and ecosystem degradation, to overfishing and pollution. Overheated, rising and acidifying seas are already wreaking serious harm, from the tropics to the poles. The discussion was less about debating the scale of the threats than about planning and committing on how to tackle them," added Tanzer.
 
"While there has been steady progress in expanding levels of protection of the ocean and in tackling overfishing, as two of the key priorities for global action, it is clearly not nearly enough. It's especially critical for national governments to step up and drive the scaled-up action required. By turning the tide today, we can secure food supplies, livelihoods, sustainable economic opportunities and enhanced wellbeing for hundreds of millions of people."
 
WWF has identified a list of priorities for governments, and all sectors, that it believes will help the world turn around the accelerating decay of ocean systems:
 
  • Protect critical habitats for fisheries, local tourism assets, and for coastal protection to support local communities through effective spatial management measures, with a goal to conserve at least 30 per cent of mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds and all key ecosystems.
  • Urgently reduce carbon emissions to reduce the assault from climate change on coral reefs, mangroves, the Arctic and Antarctica, and other vulnerable ecosystems.
  • Phase out destructive fishing methods, including bottom trawls in vulnerable areas, and ensure bycatch is reduced significantly, and drive real sustainability in fishing, including in the small-scale sector, which warrants far more attention.
  • Adopt an effective global agreement to phase out harmful fisheries subsidies.
  • Fast-track the negotiations of a legally-binding high seas biodiversity agreement to enable integrated ocean management in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • Adopt and implement sound principles and guidelines for public and private investments in the sustainable blue economy.
  • Reduce the production and use of plastics and micro-plastics, and apply recycling and waste management.
 
In addition, leaders must support and promote gender equality especially recognizing the role of women and youth, and authentically empower communities - particularly the least developed, and large ocean states, and indigenous peoples - and those most vulnerable to the decline in ocean health. This is essential to protect the sustainable blue economy and achieve sustainable development for all.
 
"The candour and eagerness to get on with the job we have witnessed in New York has been energizing and a reason for optimism, but we're also running out of time. We need to hold ourselves and each other accountable to our planet and the aspirations and needs of the billions of people represented at this conference, and ensure we come back to future meetings with clear signs of progress," said Tanzer. 
 
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Notes to Editors:
WWF has produced a series of analyses showing the economic value of the 'ocean economy' and guidelines to guide investment in the sustainable blue economy. These can be accessed at: ocean.panda.org
 
For more information, please contact:
Rucha Naware | WWF International | rnaware@wwfint.org | +32465751339
Michael Crispino | WWF-US | michael.crispino@wwfus.org | +1 240 444 3319

Leaders in U.S. Economy Say "We Are Still In' on Paris Climate Agreement

5. June 2017 - 2:00
WASHINGTON, DC -- The broadest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action, today declared their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
 
Together, these leaders are sending a strong signal to the international community and the 194 other parties to the Paris Agreement about the continued commitment of the U.S. to ambitious action on climate change absent leadership at the federal level. In the aggregate, the signatories are delivering concrete emissions reductions that will help meet America's emissions pledge under the Paris Agreement.
 
In response, Lou Leonard, World Wildlife Fund-US senior vice president of climate and energy said: "US leadership on climate change doesn't begin or end in Washington. Focusing on last week's disappointing decision by President Trump misses the bigger story - America is still in this fight.
 
"American companies, cities, states, colleges and universities are banding together to help meet US targets under the Paris Agreement. And it's not just Fortune 500 companies leading the way. From hundreds of small businesses on Main Street, to cities from Louisville to Pittsburgh, and schools from Arizona State to Ohio State, these American leaders are using their economic and political influence to shift the United States to clean energy and send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to climate action and delivering on the Paris Agreement." 
 
To view the full statement, quotes and list of signatories, visit: www.WeAreStillIn.com

For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org 

US Intent to Withdraw from Paris Agreement Triggers Renewed Call to Action

1. June 2017 - 2:00
GLAND, Switzerland (1 June, 2017) – President Donald Trump today announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Agreement, the world's first global plan to address climate change. This announcement is a call to action to national and local governments, businesses and people worldwide to step up their commitments to address climate change.
 
The historic agreement, approved in December 2015, commits nearly 200 countries to pursue all efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C to stave off some of the worst impacts of a warming planet.
 
In response, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice Leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said: "The Paris Agreement is the world's collective response to tackling climate change. But the transformative power of the Paris Agreement lies in the targets that it triggers, and nations must hold each other accountable for their promises.
 
"A race to the bottom when it comes to our efforts to cut carbon pollution benefits no one as climate change affects everyone.
 
"Cities, states, companies and the public in the US and around the world support climate action, and are already contributing to creating low-carbon economies from the bottom up.
 
"Fortunately, the Paris Agreement is bigger than any one nation or any one government. We can still achieve the promise of Paris, but we have no time to lose. Countries around the world must seize the opportunity to unleash this potential, invest in renewable energy that eliminates harmful carbon pollution, and build economies that are more resilient, inclusive and prosperous."
 
 Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund-US said: "The Paris Agreement emerged as nations put aside politics to collectively reverse course on this threat to our way of life. The US helped lead that charge. 
 
"Honoring our commitments and delivering on our promises have been hallmarks of US domestic and international policy. US environmental laws and regulations have served as models for such policies around the world.

"The Paris Agreement does more than tie nations together around a common vision. It creates a blueprint for cooperation, for political stability, and job creation. Our booming nation's clean energy economy employs more than 3.3 million Americans – more than all the jobs in the fossil fuel industry combined. The players in the real American economy understand we don't have to choose between economic prosperity and a safer future for our families and communities.

"From big retailers like Walmart to electric utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric to technology companies like Google and Apple, American businesses have been steadfast in their support for the Paris Agreement. Oil, gas and coal companies like Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, and Peabody Coal have supported staying in the Paris Agreement, which makes today's announcement all the more confounding.

"Pulling out of Paris would make it harder for our country, and the world, to reach a safer and more prosperous future. In a world made safer by agreements between nations, we urge the Trump Administration to reconsider, and stand with American businesses, mayors and governors supporting the Paris Agreement. This prioritizes the jobs and long-term stability America needs."

Contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za 

 

World leaders forge ahead on Paris Agreement despite uncertain United States

27. May 2017 - 2:00
TAORMINA, Italy (27 May, 2017) – Six of the world's largest economies today reaffirmed their support for the Paris Agreement and its continued implementation at a meeting of the G7 in Taormina, Sicily.
The meeting was attended by heads of all G7 member nations, and ends today.
 
While the leaders reached consensus on the need to harness economy opportunities and job creation offered by the clean energy transition and to provide support to developing countries, the US deferred announcing its continued endorsement of the Paris climate agreement.
 
In response, WWF issued the following statement:
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice said: "Leaders from six of the world's largest economies made it clear that climate change remains a top priority and they showed their commitment to delivering on the Paris climate deal. This is heartening, even though the US is still wavering. The co-benefits of a transition to a clean energy future include job creation, innovation opportunities and growth, and G7 leaders acknowledged that today. Their commitment to support developing countries, including with financial support, is critical to ensuring we keep warming below 1.5°C. They must take this spirit to the G20 meeting in Germany in July."
 
Gaetano Benedetto, WWF-Italy CEO, said: "We recognise the leadership and determination of the Italian Presidency and EU countries to keep climate at the top of the global political agenda: the final G7 Communique is a sign that they have been able to agree on the facts and opportunities. The impact of climate change is a more pressing issue than ever. Each country has a moral responsibility to act. We appreciate that the Italian Presidency and other countries supporting the Paris accord, while taking on a collaborative spirit, did not give up on principles and the urgency to act now. Now, we ask the Italian Government to show more courage and determination than ever in climate action in Italy and in the EU: it is a duty towards citizens and future generations. Future deadlines, from the National Energy Strategy to the Decarbonisation Strategy, will be further opportunities to build authoritativeness also at international level.

Lou Leonard, World Wildlife Fund-US' senior vice president of climate change and energy said: "On his first trip abroad, President Trump found a world -- from its major economies to Pope Francis -- united in support of climate action and the Paris Agreement. It's deeply troubling that the US would not join world leaders in endorsing the Paris Agreement, particularly in light of the overwhelmingly clear support for the Agreement expressed by the major players in the real American economy including over 1,000 US businesses large and small. It is more obvious than ever that American business, states, universities and cities have picked up the mantle of US leadership on climate change while over 3 million Americans are employed in the clean energy economy and solar and wind jobs are growing at 12 times the national average. Even so, lasting solutions to our global crises have always required clear political leadership and we strongly encourage the Trump Administration to take steps to fully implement US participation in the Paris Agreement. The future of the US economy and of global security cannot afford to see the US backtrack on the progress it has made."

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For further information, contact:
 
Cristina Maceroni c.maceroni@wwf.it / @WWFitalia / +39-329-8315725 
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za / @climateWWF / +27 72 393 0027

G7 must act with urgency to meet climate commitments – and then do more

25. May 2017 - 2:00
ROME, Italy (25 May, 2017) – Leaders of the world's seven big economies must show the way on climate action by fulfilling the commitments they made in the Paris Agreement, and then doing more.
 
Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the Group of 7 (G7) in Sicily, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said it was incumbent on the G7 members to accelerate decarbonisation to limit warming to well below 2.0°C, aiming for 1.5°C, as set out in the global climate Paris Agreement.
 
The G7 countries are Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, the United States, the UK plus the European Union.
 
"The G7 leaders are meeting just months after 2016 was declared the hottest year ever. The signs are there. The world in unbalanced and human-induced emissions is the main cause. Rising temperatures are affecting the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities. Biodiversity loss is weakening nature's ability to provide the services on which human survival depends," he said.
 
So while it will require a huge collective effort to tackle the challenges of climate change, the efforts of the G7 would be significant. "They must rally the political will needed to take immediate climate action at scale. Yes, the plan for climate action must be addressed in the UNFCCC. But informal discussions between leaders – such as will occur in Sicily this weekend – can result in increased momentum," said Pulgar-Vidal.

"Any uncertainty about the US commitment to the Paris Agreement should be a call to action for governments worldwide to double down on their own commitments and hold each other accountable. No single government will define the ultimate outcome of our efforts to address climate change," he said.
 
WWF-Italy's Mariagrazia Midulla said the Pope's meeting with US President Trump yesterday was timeous. "The choice to make the gift of the Encyclical Laudato Sì to President Trump highlights the Pope as a very important actor for all those who are committed to saving the planet from climate change.
 
"The speed and scale of the climate challenge has always required solutions from all sectors of society, including the religious sector. Globally, political leaders have the support they need to accelerate their progress, and it's coming from cities, regional governments, businesses and the public.
 
"Italy's motto for its G7 presidency is "building the foundations for renewed trust" with citizens," says Midulla. "In order to build real trust, it is important that Italy - and the other G7 leaders - maintain their commitments on climate and for the Paris Agreement, and increase them as the urgency of the problem requires. This is not the time to falter. It is the time to show reliability."
 
Countries which do will reap the economic benefits in the form of increased jobs, improved health for citizens and a clean, safe environment, she said.
 
G7 countries should also fulfil their commitments with the most vulnerable countries on climate finance.

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For further information, contact:
Cristina Maceroni  c.maceroni@wwf.it  +39-329-8315725 
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za  +27 72 393 0027

Harnessing Nature to Manage Rising Flood Risk

24. May 2017 - 2:00
WASHINGTON, D.C. (24, May 2017 - 8:00am ET) – Worldwide, flood risk will continue to rise as cities grow larger and rainstorms become more intense, making conventional engineering insufficient as the sole approach to flood management.  "Natural and Nature-Based Flood Management: A Green Guide" released today by WWF, introduces an integrated framework for flood management, drawing on policy, green infrastructure and conventional engineering to help communities adapt and better manage growing flood risk.
 
Globally, flooding is the most common disaster risk, accounting for nearly half of all weather-related disasters during the past 20 years.  Exposure and vulnerability to flood risks are on the rise: the proportion of the world population living in flood-prone river basins has increased about 114 percent and population exposed to coastal areas has grown 192 percent during the last decade.
 
"We can't afford to continue to invest in short term solutions that don't take into account how weather patterns, sea levels and land use are changing the nature and severity of flooding," said Anita van Breda, World Wildlife Fund's senior director of environment and disaster. "The traditional approaches we've used to manage flooding in the past – like sea walls and levees – in most cases, won't work in isolation for the types of floods we're likely to experience in the future."
 
The Flood Green Guide, developed in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U.S.  Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), provides a step-by-step framework for flood managers to understand the factors contributing to flood risk in their region, and to pull together the appropriate policies, nature based solutions, and traditional engineering to address the problem. 
 
"New roads, tunnels and bridges should not only be able to withstand more severe flooding, but ideally contribute to the community's resilience and safety," said van Breda. "Our framework encourages engineers, flood managers, planners, community members, and policymakers to collaborate around the table from the start to work together addressing multiple objectives."
 
The guide promotes using non-structural methods such as land use zoning as first step, and then integration of natural and nature-based methods, combined with hard engineering if needed, to manage flood risk. Natural and nature-based methods, like upstream reforestation, green roofs on downstream urban areas and wetland restorations and management can improve the function of - and reduce overall costs associated with - conventional engineering. They also allow communities to reap the co-benefits the environment can provide such as: cleaner water, reduced air temperatures and green space for human recreation while protecting livelihoods such as agriculture and fishing.
 
"Floods do not recognize national or administrative boundaries," said Sezin Tokar, Senior Hydrometeorological Hazard Advisor for USAID/OFDA.  "Any action in one part of the watershed will affect everyone else living in the watershed.  That's why an integrated and basin-wide approach is critical to save lives and protect the property of people living near the water."
 
The guide will be supported by a training curriculum (currently under development), specifically designed for those responsible for flood risk management, including municipal governments, community groups and non-governmental organizations worldwide.
 
"We need to design and develop systems that can adapt to changing circumstances while also keeping our communities, infrastructure, and environment safe," said van Breda. "The most durable flood management strategies are locally specific and factor in what's happening in the watershed, both upstream and downstream of individual projects."

For more information about the guide or to view the resource library, visit: http://envirodm.org/flood-management

Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians at risk: A UNESCO World Heritage concern

22. May 2017 - 2:00
Bratislava, 22 May 2017 – On International Biodiversity Day and days after UNESCO expressed concern regarding the future of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians in Slovakia, WWF urges the Slovak government to take action to secure the country's world heritage. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee's draft decision, published last Friday, highlighted that the Slovak part of the transboundary World Heritage Site continues to be threatened by logging, despite the efforts of the government targeting to strengthen the management of the park. According to the draft: "unless urgent measures are taken to address the lack of an adequate protection regime (....), their protection from logging and other potential threats cannot be guaranteed in the long-term, which would clearly constitute a potential danger to the outstanding universal value of this serial transnational property as a whole".
 
The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 and is located in three countries: Slovakia, Ukraine and Germany. The Slovak part of the site includes unique 200 year old beech trees and more than 300 year old clusters of silver fir, and is home to grey wolves, European bisons, brown bears and lynx.
 
However, the 33,670.2 hectares of outstanding natural heritage is not all protected appropriately. Inaccuracies in the designation documents, lack of communication with landowners and land users as well as incoherence between nature conservation and forestry legislation has led to long-lasting conflicts in the Slovak part of the site. As a result, current economic activities including forestry and tourism development may seriously damage more than half of the Slovak site where a strict non-intervention protection is currently not applied.
 
"Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians represent outstanding natural values in the Slovak but also global context. There is a risk that we lose these valuable old-growth forests and many rare and protected species inhabiting the area. It is time for the Slovak Government to show political responsibility to safeguard the area for the benefit of nature and people", said Miroslava Plassmann, Director of WWF in Slovakia.
 
WWF Slovakia urges the government to take strong action towards the protection of the UNESCO site.
"Proper management and effective mechanism for compensation of landowners is necessary along with sustaining livelihoods for local communities. Only these steps can ensure that universal values survive for future generations" – Plassmann said.
 
 
For more information:
Helena Carska, hcarska@wwfdcp.org
WWF Slovakia
+421 911 184344

Bonn sets foundation for climate action ahead of COP23

18. May 2017 - 2:00
Bonn (18 May 2017) – Climate negotiators have kept their focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the mid-year round of UN climate talks in Bonn ending today, setting the course for a substantive outcome at COP23.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice said it was encouraging to see that discussions in Bonn were not around whether or not the Paris Agreement was needed but rather about the details of its implementation. "This sends a strong signal that the climate negotiations are not being paralysed by politics. Rather, negotiators have engaged in the technical discussions that are required to make substantial progress by COP23 on the rules that will guide the implementation of the agreement," he said.

Pulgar-Vidal emphasized the urgency to scale up equitable climate ambition by all countries, with non-State actors such as business, cities, regional governments and the public also contributing to galvanising climate action. "From now through November, we have to ensure we get the impetus to increase ambition. Other international processes – like the G7 and G20 – offer immediate political moments where leaders can show their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and scaling up of climate action."

While the technical discussions were only expected to progress incrementally during this session, faster progress ahead is essential. "We only have 18 months left to complete the rulebook, so we must see the pace pick up if it is to be completed on time." 

COP23 will take place in Bonn between 6 and 17 November 2017 and will be hosted by Fiji. This is the first time an island state has led the negotiations. "The Fijian COP Presidency has made a strong impression and is eager to ensure a successful COP."

For further information contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za 

Ministries, conservation groups and indigenous communities unite to protect biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples

4. May 2017 - 2:00
Indigenous people who include, Baka, Bagyéli, Bakola, Bedzang and Mbororos make up 10 percent of Cameroon's population of 23 million people. For centuries, these communities have conserved their traditional way of life, customs and culture, possessing a unique identity and precious inter-generational knowledge of preserving natural resources. However, they have faced longstanding challenges related to marginalization and the April workshop, organized by the ministry with support from WWF, marked a critical step forward in building an inclusive dialogue and approach to addressing some of the issues faced.

Cameroon Minister of Social Affairs, Madame Pauline Irène Nguene, while opening the workshop, said the country has adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which seek to fight poverty and inequality while protecting the environment. "We need to synergize our actions to ensure protection and rational exploitation of natural resources in the interest of the local population in general and the indigenous people in particular to attain these objectives," she said.National Observatory for indigenous peopleThe ministries represented at the workshop included the Ministries of Forestry and Wildlife, Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, a representative from the Prime Minister's Office, civil society organizations, international NGOs, development partners and indigenous people associations. The two-day workshop concluded with the adoption of a three-year action plan as well as the decision to create a National Observatory for indigenous peoples.

Participants agreed such an observatory will contribute "immensely" to ensuring that the rights of indigenous people are respected in implementation of projects on biodiversity conservation. Strengthening of ongoing actions and solutions such as training of actors in the respect of human rights, establishment of a mechanism for resolution of conflicts in biodiversity conservation projects, greater involvement of indigenous people in such projects were also recommended.

During the workshop, as indigenous communities voiced their concerns, they also highlighted the magnitude of threats facing biodiversity, resources they have depended upon for centuries and underscored the need to step up efforts against poaching and ivory trafficking. "We wish to salute the efforts made by conservation organizations and the government to protect these resources which we Baka rely on for subsistence," stated Mopolo Etienne, a Baka from Mintom, South Region of Cameroon. "We feel honored this meeting was organized to discuss the protection of our rights and appreciate the attention and readiness of all stakeholders to support us," Mopolo said. "Baka have always supported conservation efforts and will continue to work with all actors to keep our environment and biodiversity safe," he added.
 Pressure on Natural resourcesSamuel Nguiffo, Director of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), a national NGO, also highlighted the danger posed by poaching and the urgency to take action while respecting the rights of indigenous people. "There is huge pressure on natural resources. Poachers armed with automatic weapons are decimating wildlife systematically," Nguiffo said. "The menace has now taken an international dimension thus requiring a different response from government, to ensure protection of what is left of Cameroon's biodiversity," he said.  Nguiffo called for greater involvement of indigenous people in biodiversity conservation activities and proposed that the government ministries work together with local communities to resolve any conflict or challenge that may arise as they aim to jointly protect valuable biodiversity.

Dr. Hanson Njiforti, WWF Cameroon Country Program Director, who participated in the workshop, said, "We are comforted by the fact that participants across the board recognized that the environment is in peril and showed a sense of urgency to take action." Dr. Njiforti said WWF welcomed the creation of a national observatory for indigenous people and will continue to work closely with minority groups to protect the environment.

The workshop was attended by international NGOs including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF, INADES formation Cameroon, Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Several local civil society organizations including CEFAID, APIFED, Okani, GOMITRI, and ASBAK also participated in the workshop. Amougou Victor, who heads CEFAID, an NGO defending the rights of Baka, said "the workshop reiterated the need for local NGOs to be more involved in issues related to indigenous people's rights and conservation." 

Climate action shines bright as record number of countries and territories join Earth Hour's tenth anniversary

26. March 2017 - 1:00
SINGAPORE, 26 March 2017 - An unprecedented 187 countries and territories came together for WWF's Earth Hour on Saturday 25 March to take a stand for climate action. More than 3,000 landmarks switched off their lights and millions of individuals, businesses and organizations across seven continents stepped forward to change climate change. Online, #EarthHour and related terms generated over 1.1 billion impressions in 24 hours, trending in at least 30 countries worldwide.
 
This year's event marked the tenth anniversary of the Earth Hour movement, which started as a one-city event in Sydney in 2007, and comes at a time when the need for climate action is greater than ever. 2016 was the hottest year on record and ambitious action is needed by governments, companies and people, their biggest stakeholders, to meet the targets set in the landmark Paris Agreement that entered into force in November last year.
 
"Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour," said Sid Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global. "Whether you are in the Philippines, Peru or Portugal, climate change matters and the record participation in this year's Earth Hour is a powerful reminder that people, who are on the frontline of climate change, want to be a part of climate action."
 
Across the globe, Earth Hour is inspiring and mobilizing people to be a part of the climate action our planet urgently needs at a personal, community and national level.
 
In India, as the presidential residence Rashtrapati Bhavan and New Delhi's India Gate switched off their lights, thousands were encouraged to make the switch to renewable energy and LED lighting.
 
In Poland and Bulgaria, people have been uniting to raise their voice against laws and policies that threaten biodiversity and the ecosystems that provide clean air, water, food and stable climate, underpinning our wellbeing as well as that of the planet.  
 
"From the shrinking of Arctic ice to coral reef bleaching, there are clear indicators that we are pushing our planet to the edge - and it is together as a global community that we can turn it around. The grassroots must mobilize and join governments and companies toward stronger climate action - the time to act is now," added Das.
 
In his video statement for Earth Hour, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the need for people to work together to build a sustainable, climate-resilient future.
 
This includes enhancing climate education among the young, such as in Bhutan and Guyana, where students are learning about climate and environmental issues in climate science centres and conservation lab sessions set up by WWF.
 
To mark the tenth anniversary of the movement, people also took to their social media timelines to express their solidarity with climate action, as skylines around the world participated in the global lights out event. From donating five posts on their Facebook page to changing their profile picture, thousands switched on their social power to raise their voice for a cause they believe in.

"Each light turned off or profile picture changed represents an individual who has made the switch from being a passive bystander to someone eager to be a part of the solution and that has been the energy that has made Earth Hour the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment today," said Das.
 
As the hour rolls to a close in the Pacific Ocean's Cook Islands, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will continue to empower individuals, communities, businesses and governments to be a part of climate action. Strengthened by the support shown this weekend, teams will renew the charge to tackle issues such as sustainable lifestyles in Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Indonesia, a transition toward renewables in South Africa, Hungary and Myanmar, and promoting stronger climate ambition and action in the UK, Spain and at the EU level.
 
Earth Hour 2017 by numbers (based on initial estimates on 26 March 2017, 8:30 a.m. GMT):
  • record participation by 187 countries and territories shining a light on climate action and issues such as renewable energy, sustainable lifestyles, protecting biodiversity and stronger climate policy. Seven countries have specifically focused their campaign on changing climate policy.
  • lights out at over 3,000 iconic landmarks including the Sydney Opera House (Sydney), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (London), the Tokyo Tower (Tokyo), the Empire State Building (New York), Singapore Flyer (Singapore), the Pyramids of Egypt (Cairo), Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Abu Dhabi), Monumento a la Independencia (Mexico City) and the Eiffel Tower (Paris);
  • over 3.5 billion impressions of official campaign hashtags between January and March 2017 with one-third of the impressions being generated between 25 and 26 March alone;
  • over 300 celebrities and influencers worldwide also raised their voice for climate action including WWF Global Ambassadors Jared Leto and Andy Murray as well as Li Bingbing, Ellie Goulding, Claudia Bahamon, Amitabh Bachchan and Forest Whitaker.
Since 2007, WWF's Earth Hour has mobilized businesses, organizations, governments and hundreds of millions of individuals in over 7,000 cities to act for a sustainable future.
 
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Notes to Editors:
Images from Earth Hour events around the world can be found here and video footages are available here.
 
You can also find previous Earth Hour videos on the links indicated below:http://hive.panda.org/Share/xvl8v858j4yr7u805f5lbvkaf8e002v3

To know more about WWF's work on climate policy and action, please visit http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/climate_carbon_energy/
 
For more information, please contact:
Rucha Naware, WWF International: rnaware@wwfint.org; +32465751339
Julien Anseau, WWF International: janseau@wwfint.org; +6590601957

WWF's One Planet City Challenge will recognize cities scaling new heights on climate action

15. March 2017 - 1:00
Gland, Switzerland – WWF is inviting cities around the globe to join the One Planet City Challenge and show the world how sustainable cities can be a hub for creativity, ambition and innovation in climate action.
 
Cities generate 70 per cent of the world's carbon emissions. WWF's One Planet City Challenge is a biennial competition that recognizes and rewards cities for developing infrastructure, housing, transport and mobility solutions to power the global transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
 
"Cities can be the blueprint and inspiration for a sustainable world," said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. "Progressive climate policy by local governments can radically reduce the impact of transport, housing and other high-emitting sectors and deliver greener, healthier and more livable cities and homes for people."
 
The One Planet City Challenge was designed by WWF to mobilize action and support from cities in global climate efforts, including the goals now set forth by the Paris Agreement. Open for participation to cities in 25 countries this year, the competition invites interested cities to register at carbonn® Climate Registry (cCR), the leading global climate reporting platform for local and subnational governments managed by ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability.
 
"Active reporting is an important way for local governments to prove they are major players in global climate efforts," says Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI. "Since the carbonn® Climate Registry was launched, we have seen over 700 cities, towns, states and regions from across the world reporting more than 6,100 mitigation and adaptation commitments."

Entrants will be evaluated by an international jury of experts, on areas ranging from urban planning and transport, to consumer behavior and energy systems. The most ambitious cities will be recognized as national winners, and, from among these, one city will be crowned the global winner of the One Planet City Challenge. WWF will profile the winning cities' achievements in a global digital campaign designed to strengthen public support for city-led climate action. 

2017 marks the fifth anniversary of the competition, formerly known as the Earth Hour City Challenge, which has engaged over 320 cities across five continents since its inception. Submissions will be evaluated on the below criteria outlined by WWF. There will also be a special focus on:
  • Level of ambition and ability to deliver on commitments and transformational change;
  • Ability to integrate actions into coherent and overarching climate action plans;
  • Determination to align with a transparent, science-based GHG emission reduction trajectory;
  • Innovative approaches to addressing urban mobility. 

One Planet City Challenge finalists will be announced during the spring of 2018. Visit www.panda.org/opcc for further details on the challenge and how to participate.
 
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Notes to Editors:
 
Cities in the following countries are eligible to participate in this year's One Planet City Challenge:
Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Guatemala, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, USA, Vietnam, Zambia
 
For more information, please contact:
Barbara Evaeus, Global Communications Manager One Planet City Challenge, WWF
Tel: +46 70 393 9030, Email: barbara.evaeus@wwf.se
 
Carina Borgström-Hansson, PhD, Lead, One Planet Cities, WWF
Tel: +46 708 855 185, Email: Carina.Borgstrom-Hansson@wwf.se

Three arrested for trafficking 159 ivory tusks

14. March 2017 - 1:00
The tusks were stocked in a metallic seal and concealed in the back booth of a car. Said to have been transited from the town of Djoum in the South Region of Cameroon, the suspects disclosed they were taking the tusks to the north of the country. The tusks could have been probably smuggled out of the country into neighbouring Nigeria. They have been kept under seal in the regional service of Cameroon's Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife until judicial procedures are completed.

This seizure comes at a time Cameroon and other countries in the Congo Basin are struggling to save the elephants whose numbers have fallen by 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011. Meanwhile, Wildlife inventories conducted in 2015 showed a decline of up to 75 percent of elephant population in Boumba-Bek and Nki national parks in Cameroon, while Minkebe National Park in neighboring Gabon lost 80 per cent of its elephant between 2002 and 2014.

"This latest seizure is testimony of the existential threats elephants are facing today," says Lamine Sebogo, WWF head of African Elephant Program. "At least 80 elephants have been killed. This is a big loss for biodiversity, the national economy, the communities and the entire humanity. It is time to take measures to upscale funding to save the few remaining forest elephants of the Congo Basin," Lamine says.
WWF commends the government of Cameroon for this effort and looks forward to seeing effective prosecution and appropriate sanctions meted out on the traffickers.

According to Cameroon wildlife law, any person found, at any time or any place, in possession of part of a protected animal, including elephant tusks, shall be considered to have killed the animal. The maximum penalties for the killing of a protected animal like an elephant are three years' imprisonment and/or ten million francs CFA.  Last year more than 100 people were prosecuted for poaching related offences. In spite of this effort, ivory trafficking remains alarmingly high in the Congo Basin with Cameroon being used as the main transit route for smuggling of tusks out of the region.   

Celebrating a decade of Earth Hour for a future of climate action

10. March 2017 - 1:00
SINGAPORE/GLAND - Ten years after the world's first Earth Hour in Sydney put climate change in the spotlight, WWF's landmark movement is set to once again unite millions of people around the globe to shine a light on climate action. As the planet continues to witness climate records being broken and the need for greater ambition and commitment accelerates, the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment is mobilizing individuals, communities and organizations globally to do their part to help change climate change.
 
Starting in 2007 as a single-city event, Earth Hour is now celebrated across all continents. In the past decade, as global climate efforts gained momentum, Earth Hour has helped bridge the gap between the grassroots and the corridors of power, taking climate action from conference rooms to living rooms. It has empowered millions to support and participate in critical climate and conservation projects led by WWF and many others, helping drive climate policy, awareness and action.
 
From the shores of Argentina where Earth Hour helped mobilize public support for the creation of a 3.4 million hectare-wide marine protected area, to the heart of Uganda where local communities and businesses helped create the first Earth Hour forest, the movement's impact has been a game-changer for popularizing climate action.
 
"We started Earth Hour in 2007 to show leaders that climate change was an issue people cared about. For that symbolic moment to turn into the global movement it is today, is really humbling and speaks volumes about the powerful role of people in issues that affect their lives," said Siddarth Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global. "Every flick of a switch or click on Facebook timelines is a reminder that people see themselves as an integral part of climate action and it is this kind of collective determination we need to tackle the most pressing environmental challenge our planet has ever faced."
 
In 2017, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will be using the movement to shine a light on the climate issue most relevant in their country or region. In Europe, as the European Union negotiates on crucial climate and energy policy for the period leading up to 2030, WWF will use the Donate Your Feed platform to mobilize public support- and their Facebook posts – to call for a clean, renewable energy future for all. In Brazil, people will be invited to join forces to protect one of the country's many biodiversity hotspots from climate change while citizens in South Africa will raise their voice for renewable energy and in China, WWF is working with businesses to encourage a shift toward sustainable lifestyles.
 
"Depending on where you may be, climate change has different faces or impacts but the reality remains the same: the time to change climate change is now," added Das. "Our actions today will define tomorrow - WWF's Earth Hour shows us that together we can create the sustainable future we desire, and our children deserve."
 
Earth Hour 2017 will take place on Saturday 25 March at 8:30 p.m. local time.

As skylines darken, people will also be invited to take a stand for climate action on their Facebook timelines through the Donate Your Feed platform. Supporters can share their commitment to the planet by donating five Facebook posts on their timeline to Earth Hour on www.earthhour.org/climateaction.
 
Log on to www.earthhour.org to know more and read additional stories and individuals using the Earth Hour movement to shine a light on climate action. This is our time to change climate change.
 
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Notes to Editors:
Link to Earth Hour's 10 years of impact video: https://youtu.be/CZp4LX4AYnM
Link to Earth Hour's 10-year journey animation video: ehour.me/EH-Animation
Link to Earth Hour's 'The Future Starts Today' video: http://ehour.me/FutureStartsToday2017
Link to photos of previous Earth Hour events and impacts: http://hive.panda.org/Share/ui0736175nh2qk8pu051p45k75n2365m
To know more about WWF's work on climate policy and action, please visit http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/climate_carbon_energy/
 
For more information, please contact:
Rucha Naware, WWF International: rnaware@wwfint.org; +32465751339

Back-to-back mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef confirmed, as WWF releases dramatic new video

10. March 2017 - 1:00
Gland/Sydney, 10 March 2017 – The Australian Government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed today that one of the world's greatest natural icons is experiencing back-to-back mass bleaching for the first time.

This came as WWF released a dramatic new video showing the Great Barrier Reef suffering mass bleaching for an unprecedented second year in a row.

The Great Barrier Reef has now been hit by four mass bleaching events: 1998, 2002, 2016, and 2017.

Last year's event was the worst on record, killing an estimated 22 per cent of all coral, with damage most severe in the remote far north.

This time, well known tourism locations, further to the south, from Port Douglas down to Townsville are being impacted. The situation is still evolving but coral mortality could potentially be even higher than last year.
John Tanzer, Oceans Practice Leader, WWF International said, "What is unfolding before our very eyes is the starkest evidence that climate change is already wreaking havoc on the ocean." 

"Coral reefs are a beloved natural wonder but less appreciated is that they also directly support the jobs, livelihoods and food supplies of many millions of people.  What will happen to these people as large areas of coral die?"

"Mass coral mortality is fast becoming a humanitarian and economic concern, and will soon be elevated to a crisis if reefs die alongside densely-populated coastlines and islands. This issue is moving onto the core agenda for many leaders around the world, particularly those whose people's lives depend on healthy reefs."

"The solutions are clear: we need a major lift in action to bring down carbon emissions and scaled-up effort to reduce the local pressures on reefs so they have maximum chance of withstanding the onslaught of climate change."

WWF-Australia Head of Oceans, Richard Leck, said, "Scientists warned that without sufficient emissions reductions we could expect annual mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef by 2050."
"Consecutive bleaching events have arrived 30 years early," said Mr Leck.
 
Mr Leck said the unprecedented bleaching must serve to drive more urgent efforts to tackle climate change in Australia and globally.

"We must address the climate crisis– fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels - that is driving coral bleaching."
The video and still pictures released by WWF were shot by Emmy award winning cinematographer Richard Fitzpatrick from Biopixel.

They were filmed on Monday 6 March and feature Vlasoff Cay off Cairns where Mr Fitzpatrick filmed many sequences for David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef series.

"Vlasoff Cay used to have the best coral diversity in the area. Now with the water sitting at 32 degrees all the way to the bottom, the corals are dying. Many are already dead and covered in algae," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"The Reef is facing an imminent danger of mortality at a level that far exceeds last year over a greater geographical distance.

"Our fossil-fuelled politicians are polluters of time which we don't have when it comes to the Reef," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

View the video and the stills here.

--- ends ---

Notes to Editors:
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority press release is available here.
WWF video and images for media use are available here.
 
For more information, please contact:
Julien Anseau | WWF | janseau@wwfint.org | +65 9060 1957
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.