By Lang Banks

IT’S there in our mission statement – for a future where people and nature thrive. But WWF hasn’t always been great at talking about the people part of our vision. You think of WWF and you think, of course, of pandas, polar bears, tigers and elephants. Or maybe, hopefully, in Scotland you think of WWF and you think of climate action, campaigning for warmer homes and green jobs, and standing up for Scotland’s nature. But the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd earlier this year sparked a flame of resistance across the world that said: Black lives matter. And black lives matter to WWF.

The fact is that climate change disproportionately affects communities of colour, particularly in the global south. And many of our communities of colour here in Scotland have relations in some of the places most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – more frequent and severe weather events like flooding in Bangladesh, deadly heatwaves in India, and sea level rise affecting communities across the world. Vietnam, the birthplace of my late mother, has been noted as amongst some of the most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts according to experts.

As a global organisation working on the climate and nature crises, we have always tried to put people at the heart of our work. It’s one of the reasons I joined WWF in the first place – it was an organisation that explicitly recognised that you cannot tackle problems like climate change if you do not acknowledge the structural causes of poverty at home and around the world. You cannot fight for nature – whether it’s on the Maasai Mara or Glasgow greenspaces – if you do not meaningfully consult with and engage with local communities and follow their lead. To some, that may go beyond what might be the traditionally expected realm of the panda logo. However, it’s the reality of what must be considered if we are to secure positive outcomes for people and for nature.

In recent months, I’ve been reflecting a great deal about these very issues and my own heritage.

At the end of the summer, I began leading some work on behalf of WWF across the UK on racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. This work has involved much listening and learning with colleagues, courageous conversations, and an examination of our own history and actions. As an initial set of actions, WWF in the UK has now rightly committed to invest in nurturing talent from under-represented groups and increase the number of black people and people of colour working with us. We also intend to better use our communications to represent, inspire and include a wider community of people in the issues facing our natural world. Finally, in all our work, we will step up the role and impact of our rights-based programming in the UK and around the world.

While undertaking this work, it’s become clear to me that in addition to acting on these issues internally, it’s important that we are prepared to talk more publicly about the steps we are taking to become better allies of black people, indigenous people, and people of colour.

Racism and racial inequality must be rooted out wherever it is found, and we have a responsibility to be more proactive in our work against racism.

We want to change the world – for people and for nature. And that means everybody.

Lang Banks is director of WWF Scotland