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World Wildlife Fund Supports Sterilization, Population Control Says Dutch Report

"1600 pandas," by WWF, Nantes, 4 April, 2009. (Photo: DocChewBacca, Flickr)

“Each month seems to bring fresh revelations of just how far WWF is prepared to go to promote fortress conservation. Shoot on sight policies, sterilization programs for villagers living near national parks – these are signs of a movement that’s completely lost its sense of ethics in pursuit of a hardline anti-people agenda.”

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, is integrating family planning into its conservation programs and has even shown support for sterilization programs of indigenous populations in Africa and India, according to a new investigation by Dutch TV.

The Dutch report is an example of what Survival International, a human rights organization dedicated to indigenous people and their desire to keep ancestral lands, refers to as “fortress conservation.” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Reporter on indigenous peoples, defines fortress conservation as:

“The idea that to protect forests and biodiversity, ecosystems need to function in isolation, devoid of people. This model – favored by governments for over a century – ignores the growing body of evidence that forests thrive when Indigenous Peoples remain on their customary lands and have legally recognized rights to manage and protect them.”

What Did Dutch TV Investigation Find?

Zembla, the Netherlands’ main investigative TV series, aired a program called “Victims of WWF.” In addition to finding WWF documentation which showed support for population control policies around conservation areas, the program also found evidence that WWF personnel were aware of a shoot on sight policy in India, which used the phrase “kill the unwanted,” and made no attempt to change it.

A report published by the WWF titled “Healthy People, Healthy Ecosystems: A Manual on Integrating Health and Family Planning into Conservation Projects” outlines how birth control programs can be implemented around protected lands – mentioning sterilization on page 39. Other WWF documents discovered in the Dutch TV report also discuss family planning and sterilization.

A 2014 report by the director of Kaziranga National Park in India, details a policy – derived from an expert panel which included multiple WWF employees – of placing human rights below environmental rights.

“Whatever the case, the institutional arrangements or systems of governance the basic principle should remain the same that crime against environment, forests and wildlife are the worst of crimes, and nothing can be more serious than these, not even human rights violations; and ever if a question arises as to which rights shall be higher priority, it shall not be human rights,” said the document found by Zembla.

World Wildlife Fund Practices Repeatedly Questioned

Survival International Director Stephen Corry condemned the WWF’s involvement in sterilization programs:

“Each month seems to bring fresh revelations of just how far WWF is prepared to go to promote fortress conservation. Shoot on sight policies, sterilization programs for villagers living near national parks – these are signs of a movement that’s completely lost its sense of ethics in pursuit of a hardline anti-people agenda.”

As Citizen Truth has previously written, letters signed by over 100 people in six villages in the Republic of Congo alleged the WWF funded “ecoguards” who abused and displaced the indigenous population in order to support a conservation zone.

The WWF recently came under public scrutiny after a year-long Buzzfeed investigation across six countries found that the conservation group funded “forces implicated in atrocities against indigenous communities.” According to evidence uncovered by Buzzfeed, anti-poaching units funded by the WWF murdered, tortured and sexually assaulted villagers, and the charity organization “signed off on a proposal to kill trespassers penned by a park director who presided over the killings of dozens of people.”

The WWF has launched an “independent review” by human rights specialists in response to the investigation, but refused to answer specific questions by Buzzfeed.

“We see it as our urgent responsibility to get to the bottom of the allegations BuzzFeed has made, and we recognize the importance of such scrutiny. With this in mind, and while many of BuzzFeed’s assertions do not match our understanding of events, we have commissioned an independent review into the matters raised,” The WWF wrote in an official statement.

Did the World Wildlife Fund ‘Sell Its Soul’ to Corporate Partners?

The World Wildlife Fund was also accused of “selling its soul” to its corporate partners in The Silence of the Pandas, a book by German investigative journalist Wilfried Huismann. While the book became a bestseller upon its 2012 release in Germany, it was banned in the UK until 2014, where it was re-released under the title Pandaleaks. Huismann argued the WWF’s “round tables” with industrialists from extractive corporations like Shell and Monsanto have allowed them to pillage the environment while having their operations “greenwashed” by the WWF’s progressive facade.

“WWF is a willing service provider to the giants of the food and energy sectors, supplying industry with a green, progressive image … On the one hand it protects the forest; on the other it helps corporations lay claim to land not previously in their grasp. WWF helps sell the idea of voluntary resettlement to indigenous peoples,” said Huismann.

The WWF responded to Huismann’s book by arguing that dialogue with extractive industries is the best manner of managing ecological stability, and said it was phasing out its donations from the fossil fuel industry.

The strident criticism focused on the WWF reflects a paradigm shift in conservation thinking. While the previous view of “fortress conservation” was that forests functioned best when devoid of people, there is a growing appreciation for the rights of indigenous people to maintain their ancestral homes.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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3 Comments

  1. Steve Fortuna May 21, 2019

    Anyone who advocates for the same population control measures for human beings as are implemented for ruminants, wolves or other large mammals is right on in my book. Only religious fanatics think the ‘miracles of the loaves and fishes’ will happen again and again, as a world with diminishing resources, under stress from massive climate change and bursting at the seams with humanity clamoring for more and more food, water, habitat and STUFF that competes with wildlife for habitat . There are way more humans on the planet than their are zebras, wildebeast, gnus, tigers, koalas, orcas, whales and other mammals that need a BREAK. We are nearing catastrophic collapse of pollinator species, which means our agriculture is under threat, and global warming ins going to make finding potable water so much harder for half the world – exacerbating a global climate refugee crisis. If you don’t talk SOON about population control you are hastening global extinction.

    Reply
  2. How to get a billions of people to put humanity’s and Earth’s needs before their personal hopes and dreams? You are absolutely right about humanity taking up too much space, but trying to enforce population control would turn out to be unethical as it’d always be the powerful deciding who gets to reproduce and who doesn’t. How about consumption control first (in the developed world)!!

    Reply
  3. Anonymous May 26, 2019

    Population control through family planning is not a bad thing, and it shouldn’t be a Western privilege. The global south, who have higher rates of population growth, including from underage pregnancies (such as from child marriage), equally have the right to safe access to family planning and sex education.

    Reply

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