28 Apr 2021
TOGETHER WE CAN: 60 YEARS OF CONSERVATION AT WWF
We must achieve more in this next decade than humanity has collectively done in the past 60 years. We are the generation to seize this moment to regenerate our planet.
On 29 April 1961, WWF was created by a remarkable group of passionate people who believed that personal action could make a difference. Today, as we celebrate 60 years of conservation at WWF, the challenges that continue to face our planet every day are multitudes greater than last century. As the Australian bushfires showed in 2020, we are living in an era of a climate emergency, biodiversity extinction crisis and growing societal inequity.
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman believes that our generation is living through a moment of transformative change that we must seize. In this next decade of action, we must achieve more than we have collectively done in the past 60-plus years since WWF was established. We must protect what we still have left, restore degraded agricultural landscapes, and rewild lost species - in short, we must innovate to regenerate our planet - for the well-being and security of all 8 billion of us.
Australia has a unique role to play globally in our efforts to regenerate the planet. The 2019-20 bushfires were the worst fires in living memory, offering a window to the future that nobody wants: 33 human lives and 3,094 homes tragically lost, close to 3 billion animals killed or displaced and up to 19 million hectares of forest and bushland razed. Climate change arrived right on our doorstep, and it was horrific. As the world looked on in horror, collectively as a nation, we realised that we must do things radically differently.
In the days and months that followed the catastrophic bushfires, the generosity of WWF-Australia’s supporters enabled us to rapidly commit $8 million to some 40 projects - that provided immediate emergency treatment for wildlife and communities on the front line.
But even before all the fires had been safely extinguished, another crisis - COVID-19 - hit our shores. This global pandemic could easily have overshadowed the bushfires completely - but it did not - with Australians still placing the planetary crisis as a top priority. The WWF team used the time in lockdown to undertake a national listening project with fire-affected and Indigenous communities and heard first-hand accounts of what it was like living through those terrifying months. Many people shared their stories of heartbreaking loss, their fears, and their desires for a secure future. Winifred from Bega told us of her anxiety about "change that's not happening" in response to documented global warming, and Victor from Cairns concluded that, "there is hope, and it's going to take a lot of work, but it's a lot of exciting work.".
It is the community's experiences and dreams that shaped a groundbreaking vision for the future, to Regenerate Australia - a stronger, more enduring future for people and nature.
Late in 2020, WWF-Australia launched the largest and most innovative wildlife and landscape regeneration program in Australia’s history - a daring $300 million vision to kick-start our recovery. Regenerate Australia is a blueprint for restoring habitats and animal populations, rejuvenating bushfire-impacted communities, boosting sustainable agriculture and future-proofing our continent for the natural disasters to come.
Ultimately, if we do this right, we can help shift Australia to a vibrant, regenerative economy that benefits future generations and our precious wildlife.
We launched this with four key initiatives:
- KOALAS FOREVER: doubling the number of koalas on Australia’s east coast by 2050
- TOWARDS TWO BILLION TREES: protecting and restoring vast tracts of forest and woodland and redoubling our efforts to halt biodiversity loss.
- RENEWABLES NATION: to fast-track our country's adoption of renewable energy and help us become a 700% renewable energy export powerhouse.
- INNOVATE TO REGENERATE: mobilising the greatest minds in Australia and around the world through a series of innovation challenges to discover the brightest solutions for future-proofing Australia.
The challenge we collectively face is immense. Achieving 60 years of work in a decade requires innovation at a scale that may seem impossible, but if the world’s response to COVID-19 has shown us anything, it is that we are capable of scaling, innovating and moving faster than we ever thought. And this is the moment for us to be bold, think big and accept that we can all participate in designing a future that works for us all. We must co-design solutions with a multitude of partners, including local communities, governments, Traditional Owners, NGOs, scientists, businesses, innovators, investors and foundations. It is the only way we can achieve our goal to turn things around and regenerate our planet.
Thank you to every single one of our wonderful supporters over the last 60 years who have made everything we do possible. The power of WWF-Australia is our 2.3 million supporters who enable us to work every day for a planet where people and nature thrive.
Now, we each have a part to play in ensuring that work continues. Get involved during WWF’s global 60th anniversary and help secure the future of our planet - for people and nature - together.