Conservation Influencers

Unmasking conservation NGOs

Conservation Influencers is a directory of 60 of the most prominent NGOs from the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby, which analyses their history, mission, methodology, funding and reputation. It assesses their influence on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the framing of the conservation debate globally. 

Environmental NGOs are like mushrooms; they grow up everywhere at all times. Like mushrooms they feed on manure, but you must be careful, some are good, several are poisonous”.

(Felipe Benavides – 1919/1991, famous Peruvian conservationist, known as ‘father of the vicuña’).

A report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies claims that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in 40 countries ‘represent $2.2 trillion in operating expenditures’, which is ‘larger than the GDP of all but six countries’. The report found that NGOs employ around 56 million full-time equivalent workers. It noted that NGOs are not empowered or appointed by public election. Instead they are responsible at best to their members or, more often than not, to ‘self-perpetuating boards’. 

NGO in the spotlight

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.


Directory of influencers

Directory listing

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.