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World Wildlife Fund Head Claude Martin Delivers Keynote Address at Environmental Conference

October 1, 2000
CONTACT: Bill Giduz

by Laura Quillian '03

Dr. Claude Martin, Director General of the World Wildlife Fund International explained to listeners on Tuesday, September 26, at Davidson College the strategies he and his organization are taking to prevent the erosion of the natural world. WWF operates worldwide in 100 countries, enrolling 4.7 million regular supporters, and has a budget of about $350-million dollars. The organization strives to preserve natural biodiversity, and pushes the globalization of efforts not only to save wildlife and plants, but also to maintain a livable environment for the future of humanity.
Claude Martin, director general of the World Wildlife Fund.

Dr. Martin began his career in the early 1970's in India and the rainforests of West Africa. He recalled the 70s as a decade with "fists in the air," and humanistic views to fight for the cohabitation of humans and other species on the planet. He reminisced about the drastic increase of environmental awareness and expenditure in the 1980s, but dismally admitted that in the 1990s people were not as enthusiastic about environmental issues. Dr. Martin projected that WWF wants solutions that are both field-based and policy-based. He added that it is "never just one end of the boat that sinks," therefore all must fight to protect future generations.

He said that partnerships and communication are the crucial factors in the WWF mission, a mission that includes several objectives: conservation of biodiversity, reduction of consumption and pollution, and the check of degradation of the natural environment. In order to achieve these goals, six priorities stand for WWF; forests, fresh water ecosystems, oceans and coasts, species, climate, and toxins are the priorities as of today.
Large crowds attended the Rusk Program's Environmental Conference.

Dr. Martin proceeded to criticize the lack of success associated with international conventions, but highlighted the need for committed governments and certified partnerships. He admits partnerships are extremely necessary, even with enemies, and cited a partnership of WWF and Chevron as a prime example of working with an unnatural ally to meet WWF standards. He said that the WWF targets companies not using high standards, and opposes corporate development in areas of high biodiversity. He did admit that problems, such as public relation gimmicks and different objectives and needs, can arise from unsettled partnerships

Dr. Martin highlighted other problems confronting environmental reform. He said the WWF represents people, and said people are more worried now about social reform than environmental issues. He said big socio-political issues, such as the widening poverty gap and the increase in consumption, hinder the work of the WWF. In conclusion, he emphasized his belief in the importance in the WWF mission, and stressed the need to influence policy and establish field programs in areas of contamination. He said field study and policy work can be effective in preserving biological species and achieving ecological success for future generations.

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