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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 00:00
.eco coming to computer screens soon © Toomas Kokovkin / WWF-CanonIn response to the awarding of the .ECO domain to a community application supported by WWF, Richard McLellan, .ECO Community Council co-chair and director of footprint at WWF International issued the following statement:

"The potential for the global environment movement to collaborate like never before has been unleashed with the announcement by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that the .ECO domain has been awarded to a community application presented by a consortium of global environmental groups to ensure the domain is used for the greater good.

"This successful bid is the culmination of many years of hard work by the members of the .ECO Community Council and only made possible by the passion and commitment of the application's "brain trust" at Big Room – the Vancouver-based company which will serve as the .ECO registry.

"Representing more than 50 major environmental groups – including WWF, Greenpeace, Conservation International, Green Cross and the David Suzuki Foundation -- and millions of environmentalists around the world, the .ECO Community Council has committed the .ECO domain to serve in the best interests of the world's natural environment.

"From the outset of this bid, we have been determined to make sure that the .ECO domain is at one with the values and goals of the environment movement, and delivers tangible nature conservation benefits around the planet.

"On behalf of my co-chair, Helio Mattar of the Akatu Institute for Sustainable Consumption in Brazil, all of the other members of the .ECO Community Council, and the broader environment movement, I look forward to all of this work now coming to fruition.

"With still much work to be done before the .ECO domain becomes fully serviceable, the Community Council and Big Room will now focus on launching and governing .ECO in the service and interests of the community, while ensuring accessibility and usefulness for registrants."
 
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 00:00
Elephant Ivory products for sale, ThailandA customer regards the products on sale at a shop selling elephant Ivory amulets and trinkest in Bangkok, Thailand. © WWF Canon / James MorganGland, Switzerland: Thailand's national ivory action plan submitted on 30 September to a global wildlife trade body is unlikely to satisfy the international community's requirements for urgent action on the country's illegal ivory trade, says WWF.

The action plan fails to detail how either consumers or enforcement authorities will be able to verify that ivory remaining in retail trade has not been illegally imported from poached elephants, since no details are provided concerning the proposed requirements. Penalties outlined for those violating the new legislation proposed under the plan are also insufficient, failing to provide the necessary deterrent for ongoing illegal ivory trade.

WWF urges that the simplest and most effective way for Thailand to avoid global trade sanctions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is to shut down the domestic ivory market, that is making it possible for organized criminal syndicates to launder massive quantities of illegal ivory smuggled into the country.

"The plan Thailand submitted does not fully demonstrate the urgency of the current crisis facing the world's elephants. As such, it puts the country at imminent risk of trade sanctions that will cost Thai industries over US$297 Million in lost revenue annually," said Dr. Colman O Criodain, WWF's expert on wildlife trade. "This is the moment when Thailand can show global leadership on behalf of elephants, the country's revered national symbol, and on the issue of corruption."

The current Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has made clamping down on corruption and illegal logging a national priority; shutting down the ivory trade is very closely aligned to this agenda. In his most recent address to the nation, he highlighted the need to tackle illegal ivory trade.

"Under a six-month timeline imposed on the country by CITES, the current government still has an opportunity to strengthen its action plan, as long as it does so as a matter of urgency," added Dr. O Criodain.

The Standing Committee of CITES, meeting in July this year, concluded that Thailand's regulation of its domestic ivory markets was insufficient.

The world governments who make up the Standing Committee reached this conclusion after Thailand was unable to show significant progress on its previous action plan and after an ivory market survey by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

TRAFFIC found that the total amount of ivory available for sale far exceeded what could come from Thailand's domesticated elephant population, and must, therefore, have come from illegally imported ivory.

Thailand was given until 30 September of this year to submit a revised action plan that would allow for the effective control of domestic trade and possession of elephant ivory, and would provide for strict penalties in cases of illegal possession or illegal domestic trade of ivory.

Thailand has until 31 March 2015 to implement a robust action plan or risk sanctions that would impact the country's lucrative commercial trade in products from other CITES-listed species, such as orchids and crocodile skins.

"The most effective way that Thailand can meet the concerns of the Standing Committee, while taking a leading role on this issue internationally, is by shutting down the country's ivory trade. Anything less is unlikely to be enforceable, given the large quantity of illegal ivory already in circulation and the continued risk of criminal networks using the domestic market to launder illegal ivory," added Dr. O Criodain.
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 00:00
TEDxWWF © WWF-Canon  Richard Stonehouse Brussels, Belgium: Brussels will host the world-renowned TEDxWWF conference on the theme 'One Planet Living' on 13 October 2014. TEDxWWF is a non-profit event that allows for the exchange of innovative and sustainable ideas to the global community. It is based on the international TED conferences devoted to "ideas worth spreading".

As humanity continues to use more resources than Earth can replenish, WWF's 'One Planet Living' focuses on ways that we can live and work without overstretching natural systems. This TEDxWWF conference is a reminder that sustainable ideas do exist and solutions are at hand.

Coming at a time when the new European Commission is on the verge of steering in a backwards direction to the failed economic growth policies of the past, TEDxWWF 2014 is hosted by WWF and presented by HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.

The speaker list includes:
-Tony Juniper, a campaigner and writer who will share his vision of a world where the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ecology and not the other way around;
-Helen Slottje, a lawyer and winner of the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize for North America, for her work campaigning against fracking in upstate New York;
-George Marshall, co-Founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network, who has developed theories about why our brains are wired to ignore environmental threats.

Sudhanshu Sarronwala, Executive Director, Communications and Marketing of WWF International, says: "TEDxWWF is an important event which brings together local and global experts from a range of disciplines and fields, who are committed to promoting sustainable living as a way of life."

Tony Long, Director of the WWF European Policy Office, says: "Living on one planet is the ultimate challenge confronting humankind. There are solutions. The inspirational speakers at this event will help us to show the way forward and keep the spirit of optimism alive."

The WWF Living Planet Report, released on 30 September, showed that all of the 27 European Union countries surveyed are living beyond sustainable limits. This means they are relying heavily on the natural resources of other countries. The equivalent of 2.6 Planet Earths would be required if everyone in the world lived like an average European citizen.

TEDxWWF will take place at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria in Brussels on Monday 13 October. To live stream TEDxWWF on 13 October, log-on to www.tedxwwf.com.
TEDxWWF in Brussels is organised with the generous support of the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria in Brussels, Yingli Solar, Exki, THON hotels, Abbit Meeting Innovation, Sound Strategies and Exki.
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Date: Sunday, 05 Oct 2014 00:00
African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Etosha national park, Namibia. © naturepl.com/Tony Heald / WWFGland, Switzerland -- A status report on biodiversity protection efforts shows that serious action is required to reduce pressures on natural systems and prevent continued decline of wildlife. The report was released on Monday at the opening meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The report, the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, shows that some gains have been made toward meeting global targets for biodiversity protection. However, WWF is concerned that in most cases progress will not be sufficient unless urgent action is taken.

"Governments must supercharge efforts to fulfill their promise to strengthen protections for nature by 2020," said Susan Brown, WWF Director of Global Policy. "CBD, its parties and all stakeholders cannot afford to fail. This meeting must break down barriers to generate the willpower and resources to protect what little remains of our natural world."

In 2010, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a strategic plan and the Aichi targets, a set of 20 goals aimed at stemming species and habitat loss by 2020. According to today's report, a target to reduce human impacts on coral reefs and other ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification will not be met by its 2015 deadline.

"The natural essentials of life – the ocean, fresh water, forests – are generally valued at zero when governments do their national bookkeeping," said Brown. "We flip from apathy to panic when those same natural systems are damaged and the true economic and social costs of biodiversity loss are revealed. We need to invest in our natural infrastructure before we suffer its irreversible loss."

Last week, WWF's Living Planet Report 2014 found that global wildlife populations have declined, on average, by 52 per cent in the 40 year period since 1970. According to the WWF report, freshwater species have suffered losses almost double that of land and marine species. The majority of these declines are coming from tropical regions, with Latin America enduring the most dramatic drop.

According to the WWF report, the biggest recorded threats to biodiversity come from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation. Exploitation of wildlife and climate change are also significant threats.

"The Living Planet Report and the Global Biodiversity Outlook highlight the dramatic changes we have seen in wildlife, both on land and in water. As societies rapidly develop, it is critical to integrate biodiversity goals into national efforts to address poverty eradication, food security, water, health, and energy," said Brown

At the current round of meetings in South Korea, WWF is calling for the expansion of protected areas that are critical to safeguard natural places and wildlife. Emphasis should be placed on coastal systems that are connected to local livelihoods and food security. WWF is also asking governments to focus on halting deforestation and other habitat loss.

"Governments continue to work against their own interests by providing tax breaks and subsidies for nature-busting programmes," said Brown. "We need to update and deliver national plans, at least double international funding for nature, and put in place financial incentives for protecting the natural foundation to the societies we want to build."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 00:00
Catch, bycatch and habitat - improved MSC standard assures retailers and consumers they can remain confident in the sustainability of the leading certified seafood. © WWFGland, Switzerland. WWF has welcomed a revised and improved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable fisheries standard. The new standard, published this week, lifts conservation requirements on fisheries, excludes shark finning on certified fishing vessels and bars companies with convictions for employing forced labour from certification.

The new standard is mandatory for fisheries entering assessment from 1 April 2015 and will apply to fisheries reassessments from 2017, but WWF is encouraging all fisheries to apply it voluntarily from now on.
"About 90 per cent of our fisheries are already overfished or fished to their limits. Only through joint efforts to make fisheries and the whole global seafood industry sustainable can we stop the over-exploitation of the seas. We are delighted that the new MSC standard meets WWF's sustainability criteria and we stand strongly behind it," said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

WWF considers the MSC to be currently the only credible standard for sustainably wild-caught seafood, and participated in the two years of negotiations involving fishermen, processors, retailers, scientists and governments that produced the new standard

"The review of the MSC Standard was a huge opportunity to bring the certification criteria up to date with recent science and international best practice, We believe that this standard will become a great incentive for best fisheries practice and considerably reduce the negative impact of fisheries on the marine environment and species," said Alfred Schumm, WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative Leader.

Strengthened provisions, new safeguards

The MSC label guarantees consumers that the fish comes from a sustainably managed fishery, and is harvested with minimal impacts on marine habitats and other marine species including endangered, threatened and protected species.

The new standard strengthens provisions requiring that the fish stock is maintained in healthy condition and introduces new safeguards for sensitive and vulnerable marine and coastal habitats, such as coral gardens, sponge grounds, seagrass beds, biogenic-reefs or sea mounts. Assessments will require more and better quality information on the impacts of fishing on habitats which will feed into fishery management conditions.

WWF has been campaigning for more than a decade to improve the sustainability of fisheries and encouraging fisheries to apply for MSC certification is a significant component of that effort. To date, fisheries certified or in full assessment record annual catches of around 10 million metric tonnes of seafood. This represents over 10 per cent of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Another 5 per cent of the annual global harvest has been identified as potentially certifiable in a short term while 85 per cent of the global harvest or their management are still in need of large-scale improvement. WWF believes that about 50 per cent of the global harvest could be sustainably sourced by 2020.

"However, commitments and actions by industry and consumer pressure for sustainable fish supplies won't deliver healthy oceans on their own," said Schumm. "The onus is now on governments and fisheries management organisations to lift their game."

For more detailed information:

•Alfred Schumm, WWF-Smart Fishing Initiative, Germany, Alfred.Schumm@wwf.de, tel. +49.151 18854926
•Dr Annika Mackensen, WWF-Smart Fishing Initiative, Germany, annika.mackensen@wwf.de tel. +49 151 18854856
•Daniel Suddaby, WWF-Smart Fishing Initiative, UK, daniel.suddaby@wwf.panda.org tel. +44. (0)207.221.5395

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent, non-profit organisation set up to address the problem of overfishing. It has set an environmental standard for sustainable fisheries, and seafood that meets this standard carries a distinctive blue MSC label. This label can help consumers to identify sustainable seafood products sourced from wild fisheries.

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. More information: panda.org/news

 
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 00:00
This is the tenth edition of WWF's Living Planet Report © WWFGland, Switzerland: Global wildlife populations have declined by more than half in just 40 years as measured in WWF's Living Planet Report 2014. Wildlife's continued decline highlights the need for sustainable solutions to heal the planet, according to the report released today.

The Living Planet Report 2014 also shows Ecological Footprint – a measure of humanity's demands on nature – continuing its upward climb. Taken together, biodiversity loss and unsustainable footprint threaten natural systems and human well-being, but can also point us toward actions to reverse current trends.

"Biodiversity is a crucial part of the systems that sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to this planet, our only home. We urgently need bold global action in all sectors of society to build a more sustainable future," said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini.

The Living Planet Report 2014 is the tenth edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication. With the theme Species and Spaces, People and Places, the report tracks over 10,000 vertebrate species populations from 1970 to 2010 through the Living Planet Index – a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London. The report's measure of humanity's Ecological Footprint is provided by the Global Footprint Network.

This year's Living Planet Index features updated methodology that more accurately tracks global biodiversity and provides a clearer picture of the health of our natural environment. While the findings reveal that the state of the world's species is worse than in previous reports, the results also put finer focus on available solutions.

"The findings of this year's Living Planet Report make it clearer than ever that there is no room for complacency. It is essential that we seize the opportunity – while we still can – to develop sustainably and create a future where people can live and prosper in harmony with nature," said Lambertini.

Critical wildlife declines
According to the report, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 52 per cent since 1970. Freshwater species have suffered a 76 per cent decline, an average loss almost double that of land and marine species. The majority of these losses are coming from tropical regions with Latin America enduring the most dramatic drop.

The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation. Fishing and hunting are also significant threats. Climate change is becoming increasingly worrisome, with research cited in the report finding that climate change is already responsible for the possible extinction of species.

"The scale of biodiversity loss and damage to the very ecosystems that are essential to our existence is alarming," said Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London. "This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live. Although the report shows the situation is critical, there is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry."

While biodiversity loss around the world is at critical levels, the Living Planet Report 2014 highlights how effectively managed protected areas can support wildlife. In one example, Nepal is noted for increasing its tiger population in recent years. Overall, populations in land-based protected areas suffer less than half the rate of decline of those in unprotected areas.


Ecological Footprint increases

According to the report, humanity's demand on the planet is more than 50 per cent larger than what nature can renew. It would take 1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support our current Ecological Footprint. This global overshoot means, for example, that we are cutting timber more quickly than trees regrow, pumping freshwater faster than groundwater restocks, and releasing CO2 faster than nature can sequester it.

"Ecological overshoot is the defining challenge of the 21st century," said Mathis Wackernagel, President and Co-founder of Global Footprint Network. "Nearly three-quarters of the world's population lives in countries struggling with both ecological deficits and low incomes. Resource restraints demand that we focus on how to improve human welfare by a means other than sheer growth."

Delinking the relationship between footprint and development is a key global priority indicated in the report. While per capita Ecological Footprint of high-income countries is five times that of low-income countries, research demonstrates that it is possible to increase living standards while restraining resource use.

The 10 countries with the largest per capita Ecological Footprints are: Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, United States of America, Bahrain and Sweden.

The climate connection
The report comes months after a United Nations study warned of the growing impacts of climate change and gives evidence to the finding that climate is already impacting the health of the planet.

According to the Living Planet Report 2014, more than 200 river basins, home to over 2.5 billion people, experience severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. With close to one billion people already suffering from hunger, the report shows how climate, combined with changing land uses, threatens biodiversity and could lead to further food shortages.

Constructive negotiations over an international climate deal are among the opportunities that exist to control these trends. Completion of a global agreement that clears the way to a low carbon economy is essential given that fossil fuel use is currently the dominant factor in Ecological Footprint.

A complementary set of negotiations on a set of development goals creates the opportunity for countries to address how natural systems can be protected as world population surpasses 9.5 billion in coming decades.

Sustainable solutions
The Living Planet Report 2014 serves as a platform for global dialogue, decision-making and action for governments, businesses and civil society at a critical time for the planet.

The report provides WWF's "One Planet Perspective" with strategies to preserve, produce and consume more wisely. It also includes examples of how communities are already making better choices to reduce footprint and biodiversity loss.

"Nature is both a lifeline for survival and a springboard to prosperity. Importantly, we are all in this together. We all need food, fresh water and clean air – wherever in the world we live. At a time when so many people still live in poverty, it is essential to work together to create solutions that work for everyone," said Lambertini.

In Asia, the report shows how cities are innovating ways to reduce carbon emissions, integrate renewable energy and promote sustainable consumption. In Africa, the report profiles how government can work with industry to protect natural areas. In other examples from around the world, the report highlights initiatives to control pollution, transform markets and improve lives.

WWF's "One Planet Perspective" shows how every corner of the globe can contribute to maintaining a footprint that doesn't outpace Earth's ability to renew. By following WWF's programme for one planet living, society can begin reversing the trends indicated in the Living Planet Report 2014.



 
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 00:00
Seoul, South Korea. 21 September 2014. One of the hundreds of thousands of marchers around the world that called on governments to take stronger action against climate change. © WWF / Woohae Cho / The StandWWF Head of Delegation Samantha Smith issued the following statement Tuesday about the UN Climate Summit in New York City:

"Every part of society showed up and delivered here at the Summit, with the exception of world leaders who still have a lot of work to do. Make no mistake – this was a historic moment, with 120 heads of state, 400,000 citizens taking to the streets, sector-busting corporate commitments, and inspiring leadership from cities and the faith community.

"But we're still waiting for governments to ratchet up their ambition and deliver global, system-wide change on the scale needed to solve the climate crisis. A laundry list of modest country actions is not an effective strategy to fight runaway carbon pollution.

"All the while, the atmospheric news is only getting worse. Emissions are rising faster than ever – this year alone global emissions rose 2.3 percent in 2013, and US emissions went up 2.9 percent.

"Despite the smog, the message is clear: we desperately need action on climate change. The historic crowds in the streets of New York City – and similar actions in other cities around the world this week – demonstrate the rising tide of public support for ambitious action.

"That rallying cry was amplified by many other groups, from faith leaders, to youth groups to civil society, and even big business. We saw critical corporate leadership – from company actions to tri-sector coalitions – on issues like deforestation and 100 per cent renewable energy. Even the finance community made unprecedented commitments to pull money out of polluting investments.

"This summit was world leaders' turn to start matching those commitments, and for the most part, they have yet to deliver.

"One bright spot was that Latin America's leaders came prepared and gave us a vision of a renewable energy future. Their commitments included crucial pledges on deforestation and are all about action now in the critical years where emissions need to start coming down. This Latin American leadership, from countries including Mexico, Nicaragua, Chile, and Costa Rica, sets the stage for strong progress at the negotiations in Peru later this fall. We'll be counting on those countries to help ramp up the ambition of the talks on the road to Paris next year."
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Date: Sunday, 21 Sep 2014 00:00
WWF workers in New York, preparing for today's People's Climate March to impress the urgent need for climate action on world leaders gathering for UN climate discussions this week. © WWF-USNew York:  WWF workers and supporters are among those gearing up in New York for what is anticipated as the largest climate march yet, under the WWF slogan  "Save the Humans!"

WWF is one of more than 100 organisations supporting the event, aimed at urging serious climate action on world leaders gathering for next week's leaders summit at the UN General Assembly.   Companion rallies are taking place today in many cities around the world.

"When international leaders arrive in New York, they will be greeted by the largest,  broadest and most diverse climate march in history," said Keya Chatterjee, WWF's point person for the People's Climate March and US director of renewable energy outreach.  

Leaders must seize on this rallying cry and find a way to give the people what they want: "climate action now."


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Date: Sunday, 21 Sep 2014 00:00
Hundreds of thousands, including WWF staff and supporters, called for this week's UN leaders summit to take serious action on climate change © Greg Marinovich/The Stand for WWF

 

New York: A wave of climate activism around the world, culminating in several hundred thousand marching in New York, has raised expectations of action from world leaders gathering in the city for the annual Head of State session of the UN General Assembly.

The New York People's Climate March was supported by more than 2800 other events in 166 countries.  WWF was one of more than 1500 partner organisations to join the massive call for climate action. 

It is hoped that commitments to the climate summit this week will be a precursor to the achievement of a fair and effective global agreement on responding to the worsening climate crisis being reached at crucial UN climate negotiations shceduled for Lima, Peru in November and Paris, France in 2015.

"This is a high profile meeting and we need clear political signals that governments are committed to immediate actions that spur the development of renewable energy sources, expand energy efficiency programs, and prioritize funding for emission reduction and climate adaptation efforts," said Samantha Smith, WWF's global climate change and energy intitiative leader..

"Heads of state must pair these immediate actions with commitments to deliver strong, national emissions reduction targets by March 2015."
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 00:00
IWC 65 closes with mixed outcomes © naturepl.com/Mark Brownlow/WWFPortoroz, Slovenia - The 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ended today with a landmark decision to impose better controls over any future whale hunts conducted for the purposes of so-called scientific research.

WWF is disappointed that Japan, the primary target of the resolution, opposed the measure and said that it will forge ahead with development of a new "scientific whaling" programme regardless of the resolution.

"As a treaty member, Japan should act in good faith and follow the procedures now requested by the commission. Anything less undermines the effectiveness and integrity of this body," said Aimee Leslie, WWF's global marine turtle and cetacean manager.

Commercial whaling has been prohibited since 1986, yet Japan has continued its hunts by issuing to its fleet scientific permits, which are allowed under a convention loophole. In March 2014, the International Court of Justice determined that Japan's hunts were not for purposes of science, and established criteria that the IWC is now seeking to incorporate.

By March 2015, Japan plans to present its new whaling proposal to the IWC's Scientific Committee. The committee then will have the opportunity to review the merits of what Japan puts forward, to test its compliance with the ICJ criteria, and to make recommendations to the commission.

Continued commercial whaling

Iceland, another treaty member, maintains a reservation against the commercial moratorium and hunts whales to sell meat to Japan. Iceland's annual hunt of over a hundred endangered fin whales has led to a chill in relations between the island state and other IWC members. Earlier this week the EU, the US and other nations reprimanded Iceland for its hunt and the associated international trade of meat.

"Iceland continues to stand in defiance of the IWC Scientific Committee's conservation recommendations and the will of its peers in the international community," said Leigh Henry, senior policy officer for wildlife conservation at WWF-US. "We call on Iceland to immediately stop its endangered fin whale hunt and to withdraw its reservation to the commercial whaling moratorium."

Last chance for action

In a positive development, the commission expanded the mandate of the Scientific Committee to deal with the many other serious threats facing whales, dolphins and porpoises. An estimated 300,000 of these animals die each year after being caught accidentally in fishing gear. Other risks to cetaceans include ship strikes, underwater noise, climate change and pollution.

WWF is particularly concerned about the fate of some cetaceans that are teetering on the brink of extinction. There are only about 150 western pacific grey whales remaining in the Russian Far East, fewer than 100 vaquita porpoises in Mexico's Gulf of California, and 55 adult Maui's dolphins in the waters of New Zealand's North Island.

"There is still hope that together it is possible to save these critically endangered animals. Cooperation between nations is essential to prevent their extinction," said Sarah Goddard, species policy offer for WWF-UK.

To speak with a WWF expert at the IWC meeting in English or Spanish please contact:
Alona Rivord, arivord@wwfint.org, +41 79 959 1963
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 00:00
Civil society marchers in Warsaw, Poland pledging to return to the next round of climate talks. © Oxfam InternationalGland, Switzerland: Against the backdrop of the largest ever public demonstration on climate change, WWF is calling on governments and business leaders at next week's high-profile UN Climate Summit in New York City to deliver clear commitments toward a future powered entirely by renewable energy.

"It's time for us to put the failed Copenhagen climate negotiations in the rearview mirror," said Samantha Smith, WWF's global climate and energy initiative leader. "People from all walks of life are taking to the streets and a rallying cry is building from business leaders and civil society to address runaway climate change. All the pieces are in place and it's time for heads of state to join this movement."

"This is a high profile meeting and we need clear political signals that governments are committed to immediate actions that spur the development of renewable energy sources, expand energy efficiency programs, and prioritize funding for emission reduction and climate adaptation efforts," added Smith. "Heads of state must pair these immediate actions with commitments to deliver strong, national emissions reduction targets by March 2015."

With international leaders convening in December in Peru for the next round of UN climate talks, the Summit is also a critical launchpad for eventually securing a strong global climate deal in 2015 in Paris. Commitments from Latin American nations – whose significance in the UN process is growing – and large emitters such as the United States will help set the stage for more ambitious international discussions.

Government, business and civil society leaders are expected to unveil several commitments at the summit that will reduce global deforestation and degradation, cut emissions from industry, and fund international efforts to help those nations most at risk to the devastating effects of climate change.

"While many progressive leaders attending the Summit are committing to acting themselves, they are also coming together to tell governments that they must act as well. We cannot achieve the speed and scale of action we need without it," added Smith.

"When international leaders arrive in New York, they will be greeted by the largest, broadest, and most diverse climate march in history," said Keya Chatterjee, WWF's point person for the People's Climate March and US director of renewable energy outreach. "Leaders must seize on this rallying cry and find a way to give the people what they want: climate action now."
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 00:00
Minke whale © WWF-CanonPortoroz, Slovenia - The killing of whales as part of scientific research programmes will now be under stricter oversight after a divisive vote by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) today. The decision comes after a judgement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March that ruled previous "scientific" hunts by Japan to be illegal.

"Illegal commercial whaling went on for way too long under the guise of scientific research. Today the IWC made the right decision to close the loophole that allowed Japan's hunts to continue freely for so many years," said Aimee Leslie, head of WWF's delegation at the IWC meeting in Slovenia. "This is a landmark decision that is great news for whale conservation. If respected, it should stop the illegitimate killing of whales in the name of science."

The resolution, put forward by New Zealand, passed by a simple majority of 35 for and 20 against. Japan and other whaling nations voted against the proposal, which leaves the measures unbinding on them under treaty rules.

Disturbingly, Japan says it will restart its "scientific" whale hunt next year in defiance of the IWC resolution.

"We urge Japan to abide by the decision of the IWC and to refrain from launching more hunts outside of the process set up today," Leslie said. "If Japan truly wants to advance whale conservation as it says it does, then it should not circumvent these new IWC rules."

A moratorium prohibiting commercial whaling has been in effect since 1986, but Japan has continued to hunt thousands of whales by claiming that it was conducting scientific research. Today's resolution gives a larger role to the commission in evaluating the legitimacy of scientific whaling proposals, as requested in the ICJ judgement.
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 00:00
A young tiger captured by camera trap in Bukit Betabuh Protection Forest. © WWF-Indonesia / Tiger Survey TeamSeptember 16th, Kuala Lumpur: The 2nd Stocktaking Conference of The Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) closed today with tiger range governments agreeing that while progress had been made, critical areas of concern remained.

The Dhaka Conference brought together 140 tiger experts from over 20 countries and is the latest step in the process which began in 2010 at the "Tiger Summit" in St Petersburg, Russia. There tiger governments agreed to double wild tiger numbers by 2022, a goal known as Tx2.

"A lot has been achieved over the past four years but time is running out," said Mike Baltzer, Leader, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. "WWF congratulates the governments and partners on their active involvement in the Dhaka Conference but urges them to maintain this momentum so wild tigers survive for future generations."

The conference was attended by the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and was hosted by the Government of Bangladesh, the Global Tiger Initiative and the Global Tiger Forum.

The Dhaka Recommendations set the priorities for the next two years and include the need to:

•increase investment and professionalise frontline wildlife protection staff so zero poaching can be achieved
•complete national tiger monitoring and assessment in all tiger habitats by 2016
•improve trans-boundary collaboration including intelligence sharing with focus on illegal tiger trade hot spots
•urgently assist in the development of the Global Support Program for demand reduction
•launch restoration in areas of low tiger density with the focus on Kazakhstan, Cambodia, and China
•expand the capacity to deal with human tiger conflict
•increase mapping, monitoring and surety of tiger habitat
•continue to seek increasing governmental budgets for tiger conservation
•further develop partnerships with business and industry
•continue to improve program implementation and coordination

"We are tremendously pleased that the governments agreed to carry out a comprehensive tiger census by
2016," said Baltzer. "This will enable them to release a new wild tiger population figure at the halfway point of Tx2, which will be an indicator of success and direct investment and actions for the final six years."

During an adjacent meeting of the Global Tiger Forum, the governments of Nepal and India together with WWF India and WWF Nepal released the results of the world's first ever trans-boundary tiger survey. The report entitled "Tigers of the Trans-boundary Terai Arc Landscape" was carried out between November 2012 and June 2013, covers an area of around 5300 km2 and documents the movement of tigers between forests in India and Nepal based on camera trap data. A total of 239 individual adult tigers were identified from camera trap photos, of which 89 were adult males and 145 were adult females. The gender of five of the tigers could not be determined.

"The findings of the report are pertinent," said Ravi Singh, WWF India Secretary General and CEO. "Wildlife populations and ecosystem functions are shared across political borders and collaborative action between the Governments of Nepal and India as well as the continued efforts of civil society in both countries, are crucial to the survival of the tiger and other large mammals in this region."

"The Terai Arc Landscape exemplifies the importance of connectivity for wildlife such as tigers to thrive," said Dr Ghana Gurung, Senior Conservation Program Director, WWF Nepal. "It underscores the need for countries to work beyond borders for common conservation goals."

Tiger are endangered. The current wild tiger population estimate - as few as 3200 - was agreed in 2010. Since then poaching has reached critical levels and is the greatest threat to wild tigers today. Statistics from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, show that a minimum of 1590 tigers were seized between January 2000 and April 2014. That represents an average of two per week.

For more information please contact Alison Harley, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, tel: +60 12 2807 402, e-mail: aharley@wwf.org.my
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 00:00
Iceland has killed 116 endangered fin whales already this year. © Nino Pierantonia / Tethys research instituteThe 28 member states of the European Union have been joined by the US, Australia, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Mexico and Monaco in issuing a diplomatic demarche against Iceland over its whale hunts. In a letter delivered to government officials in Reykjavik today, the countries expressed their opposition to Iceland's commercial whaling and to its international trade in whale meat, which they say are out of accord with the country's treaty obligations.

WWF-US Senior Policy Advisor for Wildlife Conservation Leigh Henry said:

"Already this year Iceland has killed 116 endangered fin whales. It has also engaged in an unprecedented increase in exports of fin whale meat to Japan, despite international regulations restricting such trade between countries.

WWF joins these governments in calling on Iceland to adhere to the International Whaling Commission's moratorium on commercial whaling, and to commit to ending its fin whale hunt and international trade."

The US has restricted diplomatic relations with Iceland for undermining the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. 

###

To speak with a WWF expert at the IWC meeting in English or Spanish please contact:

Alona Rivord, arivord@wwfint.org, +41 79 959 1963
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 00:00
Governments are set to debate the legitimacy of Japan's whale hunts. © WWF-Canon / Jurgen Freund Portoroz, Slovenia – The 89 member countries of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) this week are expected to debate measures to tighten a treaty loophole that has allowed the killing of more than 10,000 whales under the banner of scientific research. The likely-fractious discussions come after a judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March that declared Japan's "scientific whaling" programme to be nothing more than a thinly-veiled commercial hunt.

A moratorium against commercial whaling came into force in 1986 as whale populations plummeted toward collapse after decades of industrial-scale whaling. Since then, Japan has exploited a provision in the whaling convention that allows the lethal take of whales "for purposes of scientific research."

"The ICJ examined Japan's whaling programme and determined that it was not for the purposes of scientific research and, therefore, illegal under international law. Now it is up to the International Whaling Commission to take action on this issue before Japan resumes whaling next year. Governments have the unique opportunity this week to change the status quo on scientific whaling once and for all," said Aimée Leslie, head of WWF's delegation at the IWC meeting.

During its four-day meeting in the coastal town of Portoroz, Slovenia, the commission will be asked to decide on a resolution tabled by New Zealand that incorporates more rigorous standards for scientific permits, as prescribed by the ICJ judgment. At the same time, Japan is preparing to launch a new "scientific whaling" programme.

"Modern research techniques make killing whales in the name of science obsolete," Leslie said. "The whaling commission is long overdue to adopt reforms that will protect whales from so-called scientific hunts, which are, in reality, a cover for the harvesting of whale meat. We urge the commission to adopt the criteria described in the ICJ judgment in order to put an end to commercial hunts that are disguised as scientific research."

IWC governments this week will also take up a number of other contentious issues including whether to establish a third whale sanctuary. A coalition of southern hemisphere countries has tried unsuccessfully for 16 years to add an additional layer of protection for whales in the South Atlantic. Sanctuaries already exist in the Indian Ocean and in Southern Ocean around Antarctica. Further, renewal of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary is up for discussion at this year's IWC meeting.

Survival of the smallest 

Additionally, the commission will focus on measures needed to prevent the extinction of two rare kinds of marine mammals. The vaquita porpoise is the smallest species in the cetacean family, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. Fewer than 100 vaquitas remain in the upper Gulf of California, Mexico, the only place in the world where they are found. The critically endangered species has experienced a steep decline due to entanglements in fishing gear, particularly over the past three years as a result of a new illegal fishery.

Cetaceans must come to the surface to breath and often drown when caught in nets intended for other species. The Maui's dolphin, found only off New Zealand's North Island, faces a similar threat. In order to save the last 55 Maui's, WWF is calling for a gillnet ban across the whole of their known habitat.

"Each year about 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die unnecessarily in fishing nets. Unintended bycatch poses a severe risk to all marine mammals, but for the vaquita and the Maui's dolphin, governments need to act now to prevent their imminent extinction. We have already lost forever the baiji Yangtze river dolphin; it would be shameful to make the same mistake twice," Leslie said.

An ocean of threats

Other threats to whales set for discussion at the 65th IWC meeting include collisions with ships, underwater noise, off-shore oil and gas exploration, habitat destruction and pollution. WWF encourages IWC governments to allocate sufficient attention and resources to these serious issues, which have consequences for the survival of whale species, the health of the ocean and the benefits people derive from marine ecosystems.
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 00:00
The oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) is a pelagic shark and can be found in tropical and warm waters around the world. The oceanic whitetip shark is often accompanied by pilot fish (Naucrates ductor) who feed on the shark's leftovers. WWF lists pelagic sharks as a priority species. Kona Coast, Hawaii, Central Pacific Ocean © naturepl.com/Doug Perrine / WWFGland, Switzerland: Seven threatened species of shark and ray gain greater protection this Sunday with the introduction of regulations to prevent illegal and unsustainable fishing practices driven by international trade.

In a conservation milestone welcomed by WWF, five shark and two manta ray species will be under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) from 14 September. Their commercial trade will be regulated to ensure they are legally sourced and that trade doesn't threaten the species' survival.

"Sharks are apex predators and play an important role in maintaining a healthy ocean. Regulating trade is key to saving these important species and ensuring the ocean contributes to food security by staying productive," said Andy Cornish, Leader of Sharks: Restoring the Balance, a joint initiative of WWF and wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

The species in question include oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three types of hammerhead shark, as well as two manta ray species. Shark populations are decreasing at a rapid rate across the globe with losses of more than 90 per cent of some species in certain locations.

Sharks are sought for fins, meat, leather, liver oil and cartilage. However, it is the demand for shark fins in Asia that is the greatest driver of overfishing and population declines. Oceanic whitetip and hammerhead fins are high value, the porbeagle is mainly caught for the international trade of its meat, and the gill plates of manta rays are highly valued as a health tonic in southern China.

The entry into force of these new listings comes more than a year after nations voted to have the species added to Appendix II of CITES. "It was a long road to the necessary two-thirds majority vote, with some of the species narrowly missing it at previous CITES meetings," said Dr Colman O Criodain, WWF International's wildlife trade specialist. "The 18-month delay before the entry into force of the listings was necessary to allow countries to prepare for implementing them properly."

"The listing was a victory for science over politics," said Cornish. "But now the real work starts. First we want to see the CITES regulations enforced, and then we want to see legal fisheries become truly sustainable, well-managed fisheries. The stocks of some of these species may already be too low to allow any fishing. In such cases, a recovery period will be required to pull these sharks and rays back from the brink."

A 2014 report led by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group found that almost a quarter of all sharks, rays are threatened with extinction.

WWF has led campaigns in several Asian countries to persuade companies and consumers to stop buying, selling or consuming shark fin. Cornish says that even with the CITES listings entering into force, there are no certified sustainable shark fin yet on the market and until such time, these products should be avoided.

"International cooperation to implement the new CITES measures will be essential. CITES is very important as part of the solution to accelerate improvements in management for some important species across most fishing nations, but reducing consumption of unsustainably harvested shark fin and meat is just as important as ever," said Cornish.

WWF and TRAFFIC created Sharks: Restoring the Balance, a joint global initiative to promote responsible shark fishing, improve the regulation of international trade in shark products and reduce consumer demand for unsustainably sourced shark and ray products.

For more information on the species in question and the new provisions that will apply see: http://www.cites.org/prog/shark
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 00:00
The critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, Orcaella brevirostris, photographed at Kratie Province in northeast Cambodia. The Mekong dolphin population is estimated at between 66 and 86 individuals inhabiting a 190km stretch of the Mekong River between Cambodia and Lao PDR. © Richard Vincent / WWF Greater MekongPhnom Penh, Cambodia – WWF today staged a public event to share the concerns of more than a quarter of a million people who are calling on Mega First Corporation to suspend construction of the controversial Don Sahong hydropower project on the Mekong River.

Since May this year, 12,404 concerned Cambodians have added their name to a WWF public petition opposing Don Sahong dam. The local action, supported by members of the River Coalition in Cambodia (RCC) under the facilitation of the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), was bolstered by a global online petition signed by 255,596 people representing more than 200 countries.

Laos' Don Sahong dam could herald the demise of important fisheries and critically endangered Mekong dolphins. Around 85 dolphins are now restricted to a 190km stretch of the Mekong River between southern Laos and north-east Cambodia, with the dam project in southern Laos located just one kilometre upstream of the dolphins' core habitat.

"More than a quarter of a million people around the world are sending a strong and clear message to Mega First. Stop Don Sahong dam or risk the dubious honour of precipitating the extinction of a species," said Mr Chhith Sam Ath, WWF's Country Director. "Don Sahong dam is a dangerous experiment and Mega First is gambling with the livelihoods of millions."

The Stop Don Sahong dam event, hosted by WWF and the RCC, included 25 community members from the Mekong River and Tonle Sap, 50 youths from Phnom Penh, NGO representatives, and Buddhist monks working on conservation awareness along the Mekong River. As part of the event, boats travelled along the Mekong River displaying banners calling on Mega First to respond to the huge public opposition to their project.

The dam builders intend to excavate millions of tonnes of rock using explosives, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill dolphins which have highly sensitive hearing structures. Increased boat traffic, changes in water quality and habitat degradation represent other risks.

WWF analysis has also revealed that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by Mega First uses flawed and incomplete research. The dam will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting at risk the world's most productive inland fisheries and the livelihoods of 60 million people living in the Lower Mekong Basin.

"Without fish and dolphins, our livelihoods will be destroyed," said Mr. An Hou, Chief of Community Fishery Network in Sambor district of Kratie province in Cambodia. "We are helpless and we do not know what to do if the dam goes ahead. We ask Mega First's Executive Chairman, Mr Goh, to stop the dam construction and rethink this project, and consider carefully the lives of millions of people who depend on the Mekong River."

In June this year, the Lao Government announced its decision to have the Don Sahong dam undergo the Mekong River Commission's (MRC) consultation process. The process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project's environmental and social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete.

"Many community members along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap have expressed their concerns for the future of their families and their livelihoods," said Mr. Tek Vannara, NGOF's Executive Director and the representative of RCC. "Mega First has not proven that the risks associated with Don Sahong dam can be mitigated. They should listen to public concerns and suspend the project. Studies are needed to ensure that local livelihoods will not be destroyed by the dam."

WWF and the RCC are calling for an immediate halt to any further development of the Don Sahong dam until the developers have addressed significant gaps identified in the project documents, such as the feasibility studies and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Additionally, an independent and sound assessment of the Don Sahong project against more sustainable alternatives must be conducted.
 
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 00:00
WWF and Norwegian Polar Institute staff at polar bear tracks. Svalbard, Norway, April 2014. © Tom Arnbom / WWF-CanonA team of French scientists working in partnership with conservation organization WWF has for the first time isolated polar bear DNA from a track left in the snow.

The scientists from DNA specialist firm SPYGEN looked at two samples from polar bear tracks collected earlier this year during the WWF-Canon and Norwegian Polar Institute expedition to Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic.

"The results are really exciting," says Eva Bellemain, project leader for SPYGEN. "This is the first time we have been able to extract DNA from a track left by a polar bear – we found not only the bear's DNA, but also that of a seal and a seagull. We know from observations by the WWF team that the bear in question had just killed a seal, and that seagull had been seen at the kill site too, so this one footprint tells the whole story."

In a rapidly changing environment like the Arctic, it's a challenge to maintain current information on polar bear populations.

"This method would be an invaluable tool for conservation biology" says Arnaud Lyet of WWF. "At present, researchers use expensive, invasive techniques to track the population size and health of wildlife such as polar bears. Using footprint DNA, we could dramatically cut the investment required, so monitoring populations could be done more easily."

From here, the team hopes to further refine its analysis of the bear DNA, so it can tell more about the animal. It also intends to see if the method can be applied to other rare or difficult to access wildlife.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) in snowstorm. Spitsbergen, Norway."This is a great example of scientific innovation from the latest Arctic expedition and we are proud to have helped support the sample collection," says Susan Stuart, Sustainability Director for Canon Europe, "This discovery shows how investing in science in the Arctic has the potential to produce real change."
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 00:00
WWF and Norwegian Polar Institute staff at polar bear tracks. Svalbard, Norway, April 2014. © Tom Arnbom / WWF-CanonA team of French scientists working in partnership with conservation organization WWF has for the first time isolated polar bear DNA from a track left in the snow.

The scientists from DNA specialist firm SPYGEN looked at two samples from polar bear tracks collected earlier this year during the WWF-Canon and Norwegian Polar Institute expedition to Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic.

"The results are really exciting," says Eva Bellemain, project leader for SPYGEN. "This is the first time we have been able to extract DNA from a track left by a polar bear – we found not only the bear's DNA, but also that of a seal and a seagull. We know from observations by the WWF team that the bear in question had just killed a seal, and that seagull had been seen at the kill site too, so this one footprint tells the whole story."

In a rapidly changing environment like the Arctic, it's a challenge to maintain current information on polar bear populations.

"This method would be an invaluable tool for conservation biology" says Arnaud Lyet of WWF. "At present, researchers use expensive, invasive techniques to track the population size and health of wildlife such as polar bears. Using footprint DNA, we could dramatically cut the investment required, so monitoring populations could be done more easily."

From here, the team hopes to further refine its analysis of the bear DNA, so it can tell more about the animal. It also intends to see if the method can be applied to other rare or difficult to access wildlife.

"This is a great example of scientific innovation from the latest Arctic expedition and we are proud to have helped support the sample collection," says Susan Stuart, Sustainability Director for Canon Europe, "This discovery shows how investing in science in the Arctic has the potential to produce real change."
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Date: Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 00:00
Cover for Environmental, Social and Governance Integration for Banks: A Guide to Starting Implementation © WWFSingapore – A new guide released today by WWF explains how banks can go beyond reputation and risk management to embrace transformative change. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Integration for Banks: A Guide to Starting Implementation shows how financial institutions acting as lenders, financial advisors and capital raising agents can adopt sustainable practices.

"This is the first guide that maps out 'how to' steps for financial institutions in the earlier stages of their ESG journey. It shows them how to manage their risk exposure to unsustainable business practices and lead the trend toward green business," said Jeanne Stampe, WWF Asia Finance and Commodities Specialist.

Banks can no longer ignore credit risks brought on by severe weather patterns impacting infrastructure or agricultural production, water stress affecting production across sectors, or regulations that affect the value of carbon assets or carbon-related infrastructure. Banks increasingly need to adapt to these emerging challenges through sustainable solutions.

The guide provides banks with a toolkit to develop an ESG strategy and an operational framework to integrate ESG issues into their practices. This is an expertise that financial institutions across Asia are seeking with urgency.

Ben Ridley, Asia Pacific Head of Sustainability Affairs at Credit Suisse commented: "Credit Suisse is proud to sponsor this guide. It provides Asian banks with the background, knowledge and tools to develop a strategy and action plan to embed consideration of key ESG issues into their core business."

"The call to address environmental concerns has grown increasingly louder over time. Businesses, whether upstream or downstream, need to work together to do what is right and banks can play a significant role in promoting sustainability. While change will not happen overnight, the WWF guide can serve as a roadmap to provide insights on how ESG issues can be integrated into business processes to achieve this purpose," said Samuel Tsien, Chairman of The Association of Banks in Singapore.

Singapore Exchange (SGX) will be hosting the first in a series of WWF-organized workshops to discuss the key ESG issues facing the banking sector. The workshop will also demonstrate how ESG risk management can be integrated into their own institutions using WWF's guide as a roadmap. The workshop will be run in partnership with The Association of Banks in Singapore and Singapore Business Federation on 9 September 2014.

Magnus Böcker, CEO of SGX and Chairperson of the company's Sustainability Committee, said: "SGX is delighted to support WWF in its efforts to raise awareness on Environmental, Social, and Governance issues. This guidebook parallels efforts SGX has made with its own Sustainability Reporting Guide for listed companies. Together with like-minded parties including WWF, SGX hopes more corporate leaders will embrace sustainability including diversity and governance.""SBF is delighted to support WWF's Environmental, Social, and Governance Integration Guide. The knowledge and expertise provided will have significant influence on the wider business community," said Ho Meng Kit of the Singapore Business Federation.

"SBF actively promotes the sustainability agenda through many programmes - such as its flagship Singapore Sustainability Awards - and welcomes WWF's initiative to promote ESG in the financial sector."
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