Wilfried Huismann’s exposé of WWF, Schwarzbuch WWF became a best-seller in Germany when it was published in 2012. The book has been updated, renamed as Pandaleaks, and is now available in English.
Huismann accuses WWF of “selling its soul” to polluting corporations and “greenwashing” their operations.
Huismann told the Observer that,
“WWF is a willing service provider to the giants of the food and energy sectors, supplying industry with a green, progressive image … On the one hand it protects the forest; on the other it helps corporations lay claim to land not previously in their grasp. WWF helps sell the idea of voluntary resettlement to indigenous peoples.”
Before the book, Huismann produced a documentary, “The Silence of the Pandas”, that was broadcast in 2011 on ARD in Germany.
Censorship WWF style
WWF’s reaction to the book was similar. The Pandaleaks website explains that,
WWF had initially managed to stop its sale for several weeks with a massive campaign of threats to the book trade. A series of lawsuits launched by the WWF also failed to achieve a book ban.
In the English version of the book, Huismann takes the lawsuits in his stride. He travelled to Geneva for a meeting of the World Ethanol & Biofuels Conference in Geneva. Huismann describes a speech by WWF Germany’s manager for “sustainable biomass” at the meeting:
Due to a court settlement I am no longer allowed to refer to this woman by name. Madam “X” took the conference stage and proceeded to push the schmooze button: “We’re different than other conservancy groups – we’re constructive.” Companies that acquired the WWF-approved certificate for “sustainable” biofuel, she said, would be on the safe side and “continue to do brilliant business”. And she had another piece of “good news”: The WWF was in favor of “appropriating” even more lands worldwide than previously for fuel crops – a welcome message that was greeted with friendly applause from the delegates in the hall.
Huismann interviewed WWF’s “Ms. Biomass” after her speech. The interview is toe-curlingly embarrassing to watch. But Huismann is unable to quote from that interview because of a decision of the District Court of Cologne. The interview was conducted for the film “The Silence of the Pandas” and “Ms. Biomass” did not explicitly agree to the interview being published in a book.
A “neat bit of censorship”, as Huismann points out.
The 1001 Club: Running the world
Huismann’s book looks into the 1001 Club, an endowment fund consisting of 1001 rich individuals. Here’s how WWF describes its members:
Members of The 1001: A Nature Trust are philanthropists from over 50 countries. Among them are owners and executive officers of large enterprises, entrepreneurs, scientists and artists to name a few. Whatever their political, personal or business interests, members of The 1001 share the same passion for the environment, and above all the same desire to support the world’s leading conservation organization.
The members of the 1001 Club are secret, but some names have slipped out, including: Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli; BP’s Sir Eric Drake; Shell’s John H. Loudon; Henry Ford II; Mobutu Sese Seko, Dictator of Zaire; and Prince Philip, the first president of WWF in Britian.
Huismann told the Observer that,
“The ‘1001 club’ is still important for the WWF, even though it’s not a secret central committee. I hate conspiracy theories, but I’m convinced that the discreet ‘1001 club’ still influences the strategic decisions of the WWF, because many of its members are important players in global and powerful financial and industrial corporations that rule the planet.”
WWF is still in denial about the revelations in Huismann’s book. A WWF spokesperson responded to the Observer with an ad hominem attack:
“Pandaleaks is the book of a discredited German television documentary that disregarded most of the basic norms and standards of journalism. It is not factual and does not present a representative picture of WWF.”
WWF, according to the spokesperson hasn’t “sold its soul” but seeks to “strategically engage industry”.
However, the spokesperson did acknowledge that WWF is “in the final stages of a several year project upgrading our global transparency and accountability standards for business partnerships.” About time, too.
PHOTO Credit: Photo by Felix J. Fuchs of street art in Amsterdam’s Spuistraat by Bustart.