Interview with Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) General Director, Jim Leape

15/07/2011
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Enlightening WWF’s future collaboration with the AfDB, Jim Leape affirms: “Like the African Development Bank, WWF is a trusted partner across Africa, working with governments, business and civil society…  He strongly supports the Bank to revise its Safeguards policies. He further said: “With the Bank, we hope to share expertise, technical assistance as well as policy learning, as well as on how to help value and protect Africa’s incomparable natural and biodiversity heritage.”

Question: Your organization is called Worldwide Fund for Nature. What is it all about?

Jim Leape: WWF is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global Network active in more than 100 countries.

WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’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.

Question: In what way AfDB can benefit from a possible partnership with your organization?

Jim Leape: Like the African Development Bank, WWF is a trusted partner across Africa, working with governments, business and civil society to protect. With presences in 18 countries and over 900 staff in the region, we can offer to share expertise, technical assistance as well as policy learning on a wide range of issues where environment is intimately linked to economic and social development, including management of increasingly important and scarce natural resources such as forests and water, building resilience and adaptation to climate change impacts into regional and national development plans, not to forget as well how to help value and protect Africa’s incomparable natural and biodiversity heritage.

Further, because we are a global organization, working closely with other Regional Development Banks such as the Asian Development Bank, we can also help share knowledge and experiences from across the globe that might be useful to the AfDB.  

Question: To what extent can such a partnership with the Bank help to build a green economy in Africa?

Jim Leape:  With the current forecasts for growth in Africa, in economic, developmental and population terms, shifting the path to a green economy is an imperative that makes basic good sense. Since Africa remains an overall creditor region in the sense of Human Ecological Footprint (see our Living Planet Report 2010), integrating Natural Capital into development planning should ensure the benefits of improved human and natural welfare, not just for tomorrow, but also in the long-term. Our partnership is about sharing our expertise to help mobilize society to realize these common objectives.  

Question: How can civil society organizations participate in any Safeguard Policies to ensure the sustainability of such green economy? I am sure you must have discussed these issues during the 2011 Annual Meetings in Lisbon?

Jim Leape: As one participant at the Civil Society Consultations in Lisbon said, “We have all been educated at the same schools, and followed similar professional paths; we just work for institutions which have different responsibilities.” The revision of Safeguards policies by AfDB is important for keeping it a Best of Class Institution in meeting the obligations to its member countries and the aspirations of African. Civil society organizations can, must and, most assuredly, will provide constructive input to this process; this is wholly consistent with the new Civil Society Engagement Framework discussed most constructively between the Bank and CSO representatives at the Annual Meeting.