Conservation Influencers

Center for International Environmental Law

USA and Switzerland

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) was founded in 1989. Its core mission is, in its words, ‘to use the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society’. It pursues this work through legal research and advocacy, education and training.

The Center for International Environmental Law attends CITES’ CoPs, where it supports prohibition on all trade in elephant products, especially the sale of ivory by Southern African states. According to CIEL, ‘the prospect that a legal market in ivory might be restored in order to undermine poaching is an invalid argument because legal trade stimulates illegal trade and thereby increases the chance that elephants will be made extinct’. Hence CIEL believes that even speculation that the ivory trade could be legalized ‘encourages poachers’. This line of thinking leads CIEL to argue against the sale of existing stockpiled ivory and the harvesting of new sources of supply. (See: Remembering Elephants at CITES, by Chris A Wold). 

Another of CIEL’s major concerns within CITES is forestry and the enforcement of timber species’ listings in the appendices. CIEL has consistently supported the trade embargo on the sale of precious woods by Madagascar, which was imposed because of the nation’s ‘failure’ to implement CITES’ regulations on rosewood exports. This trade embargo also applied to existing stockpiles of rosewoods (originating from before they were included in CITES’ appendices), the sale of which would have no impact on the environment. CIEL has also opposed liberalising the restrictions placed on the sale of Afrormosia in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

More broadly, CIEL campaigns from a legal perspective against the fossil fuel industry and on climate change-related issues.


Carroll Muffett, President and CEO, former Deputy Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA.


Board of Trustees chaired by David Mattingly.


According to its annual report, in 2020 its revenue was USD4,526,548 and its expenses were USD3,647,631. One of its institutional funders is the Oak Foundation.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.