© Karine Aigner/WWF-US
WWF Statements of Principles and Environmental & Social Safeguards
WWF understands that conservation and regeneration are about people, their behavior, and their attitude towards nature.

The decisions people take in making efforts to conserve nature are highly interlinked with culture, wealth, ethnicity, religion, and gender. This complex system of beliefs and values can create connections - but also disputes - between people. To ensure the protection of both people and nature, WWF's Statement of Principles and Environmental & Social Safeguards guide all WWF activities.

© Nabin Baral/Hariyo Ban Program/WWF Nepal

Environmental and Social Safeguards

The purpose of the WWF Statement of Principles and Environmental & Social Safeguards is to avoid (or minimize) adverse environmental impacts, and to enhance positive impacts to the maximum extent possible. Safeguards are designed to ensure our conservation efforts do not have unintended adverse social or environmental impacts and protect human rights.

WWF’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) provides an institutional mechanism to manage the environmental and social risks of WWF’s work, helps deliver better conservation outcomes, and enhances the social well-being of local communities in the places where WWF operates. The safeguards framework is designed to address a broad range of environmental and social risks, mindful of the different challenges and needs in different parts of the world.

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© WWF Nepal/Hariyo Ban Program

Free, Prior and Informed Consent

WWF’s policy statement on Indigenous Peoples and Conservation outlines our commitments to recognizing and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their lands, territories, and natural resources. Further, WWF recognizes that conservation and regeneration activities benefit from Indigenous Peoples being partners in their design and implementation.  WWF recognizes the right of Indigenous Peoples to give, modify, withhold, or withdraw their free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) to interventions, or parts thereof, that may affect their peoples, or their lands, territories, and natural resources. 

WWF Nepal has collaborated with National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN) a government entity working for Indigenous communities to design a national guideline for Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples. WWF Nepal will conduct FPIC for any projects that might impact indigenous people’s land, territories and resources. 

© FECOFUN Dhading/ Hariyo Ban Program, Susma Silwal

Human Rights Based Approach

WWF Nepal aims to promote positive links between conservation and rights of people to secure their livelihoods, enjoy healthy and productive environments and live with dignity. 

WWF Nepal is committed towards respecting and promoting human rights within its scope of conservation initiatives, while also recognizing the role and contribution of Indigenous Peoples. 

© WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Nabin Baral

Inclusive Conservation

A conservation approach that respects human rights, empowers minority groups, IPLC women and other rights holders creates conditions for equity and social justice, and leads to better and sustainable conservation delivery. This is the optimal approach to reduce the social and economic costs of conservation and is in line with the sustainable development agenda and WWF mission. This can contribute to achieve effective participation, Participation in decision making benefit sharing and equitable access to opportunities to conservation initiatives. Some of the steps that WWF is adapting to achieve inclusive conservation are: 
  • WWF mainstreams social policies and implement Social and Environmental Safeguards (ESSF) and guidelines which are socially legitimate, promote accountability and build trust and solidarity resulting in more effective and equitable use, conservation and governance of natural resources at scale.
  • WWF adopts practices, institutions (formal & informal), values and policies that uphold equitable engagement and fair participation and FPIC of all rights holders and custodians of nature, especially IPLCs, men and women in conservation activities
  • WWF ensures and sustain participatory, inclusive and robust processes and engagement at all level

Nepal's Environment and Social Safeguards Process

WWF has developed a Safeguards Screening Tool (SST) under which an ESSF screening has been completed for the Terai Arc Landscape and Mountain Landscapes in Nepal. ESSF screening identifies and suggests possible steps to mitigate those risks associated with WWF’s activities in its working landscapes. Three issue areas corresponding to the substantive ESSF standards has been identified in both landscapes:

- Community Health and Safety
- Indigenous Peoples, and
- Restrictions to Access to Resources. 


The safeguards reviewer categorizes the landscape into one of the following risk categories and records the outcome in the categorization memo. The memo shall clarify whether any additional assessment (e.g. an environmental and social impact assessment) is required, and if so, the scope and content of such. 

As a result of the screening exercise, projects will be categorized according to their risk level.
Category A: High-risk projects
Category B: Medium-risk projects and
Category C: Low-risk projects.

Terai Arc Landscape and Mountain Landscape falls under medium risks category.

A mitigation plan has been developed for the Terai Arc Landscape to guide WWF Nepal in its program design. It will be applied to project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation for all activities supported by WWF across this landscape. 

The Terai Arc Landscape Program runs with a holistic approach for ecosystem conservation through multi-stakeholder engagement and coordination at federal, province and local levels. The Terai Arc Landscape Strategy envisions enhancing the governance mechanism at each level through institutional arrangements across stakeholders working in the landscape. It starts with participatory planning through inclusion of community based organizations, community ownership, and monitoring of progress.


WWF has conducted the ESSF risk screening process for the Mountain Landscape program managed by WWF-Nepal. Three different areas corresponding to the substantive ESSF standards were identified through this process and are addressed in this plan with the aim of mitigating potential risks:
1) Community health and safety
2) Indigenous Peoples, and
3) Restrictions to access to resources.

This plan serves to guide WWF Nepal in its program design and will be applied to project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation for all activities supported by WWF across the landscape.

The Environment and Social Management Plan (ESMP)/ Mitigation Plan serves as a framework for managing and mitigating the environmental and social risks and impacts associated with implementing a project. The substantive standards triggered in Mountain Landscape has been identified. They are; Indigenous people, access restriction and community health, safety and security. Mitigation plans are developed accordingly to safeguard the activities that might impact in the triggered standards.

WWF’s Stakeholder Engagement standard reflects WWF’s commitment to meaningful, effective, and informed stakeholder collaboration with potentially affected communities in the design, implementation, evaluation, and learning process of projects to improve social and environmental outcomes. WWF is committed to ensuring that the stakeholder consultations are truly representative and inclusive. Inputs into the development of Mountain Landscape ESSF instruments were gathered through consultations with key interested actors in the Mountain Landscape which provided needed information in elaborating and explaining the risks, assessing the effectiveness of existing mitigation measures, and generating new insights.

The purpose of disclosure of ESSF documents is to share it with wider stakeholders on potential environmental and social risks and mitigation measures to be applied in mountain landscape while carrying out activities by WWF Nepal and implementing partners. Some of the brief highlights of the ESSF disclosure in mountain landscape are described below:

· ESSF sensitization was carried out in a project roll out in Shey Phoksundo National Park (SPNP) on 25th November 2022. A total of 39 representatives from grantee partners / stakeholders attended the sensitization.

· ESSF documents disclosure to Shey Phoksundo Municipality Representatives was conducted on 15th March, 2023 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A total of 30 representatives actively participated in the event.

· ESSF Roll Out to sub grantees in SPNP was conducted on April 23-May 04, 2023 in Rigmo and Dunai, Dolpa