WWF at risk? WWF accused of being used for greenwashing

According to Mr. Huismann, “the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business."

WWF at risk? WWF accused of being used for greenwashing

13 October 2014 News

WWF International, the world's largest conservation group, has been accused of "selling its soul" by forging alliances with powerful businesses which destroy nature and use the WWF brand to "greenwash" their operations, according to “PandaLeaks – The Dark Side of the WWF”, the controversial book by award-winning German journalist and filmmaker Wilfried Huismann.

According to Mr. Huismann, “the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group's green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.”

“We have been asked by some of our stakeholders to look into these allegations since WWF is an important and respected actor in promoting sustainable forest management,” said William Street Jr., Chairman of PEFC International. 

“The book claims that WWF receives millions of dollars of support annually, from corporations where a real conflict of interest seems to exist. Equally as troubling is the accusation that WWF has been associated with the creation of more than 14 million “conservation refugees” in Africa alone.” 

“Huismann argues that by setting up "round tables" of industrialists on strategic commodities such as palm oil, timber, sugar, soy, biofuels and cocoa, WWF International has become a political power that is too close to industry and in danger of becoming reliant on corporate money,” writes the Guardian.

“I am concerned because of WWF’s close relationship with these round tables that are used by the very same companies that benefit from WWF’s green image. This creates another potential conflict of interest, especially as WWF then undertakes comparative assessments of round tables and certification systems in which those WWF has established itself score highest. Impartiality and independence are core pillars of credible certification, which means that even perceived conflicts of interest may risk the reputation of the entire sustainability certification movement,” commented Mr.  Street.

“This highlights the need for sustainability certification systems to be based on globally recognized procedures and processes that ensure this impartiality and independence, such as those developed by ISO and also utilized by PEFC, rather than relying on someone else’s green reputation. We are looking into this as a matter of urgency,” emphasized Mr. Street.

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