The Asian Development Bank and the World Wide Fund for Nature

Feature | 2 February 2012

The Asian Development Bank and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) recently marked the 10th anniversary of their partnership. Over the years, the organizations have collaborated on sustainable environmental development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), the Coral Triangle (CTI), the Heart of Borneo (HoB), and the Living Himalayas (LHI), and water and climate change as cross-cutting themes.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with WWF is the first and, to date, the only one that the ADB has signed with a non-government organization. Signed on 26 September 2001, the MoU established a basis for information sharing, knowledge management, and capacity building.

At the recently concluded Annual Consultation, both organizations have re-committed to working for a more sustainable environmental program in various areas. They also discussed niches for further alliance and development on the regional environment program.

"WWF has been a faithful friend and ally in working with us to promote sustainable environmental growth in the region," said Xianbin Yao, ADB's Director-General for Regional and Sustainable Development Department, of the partnership. "Over time, I believe that each organization has developed a mutual respect and trust which will serve to keep the partnership strong as we confront a range of challenges in the future."

"Over the past years, WWF has evolved from being a typical organization applying for technical assistance for environmental implementation to a rather strategic peer partner with ADB on issues related to food security, livelihood, and climate change," described Lida Pet-Soede, WWF Leader for Coral Triangle Network Initiative.

Achievements of the partnership

ADB and the WWF have been collaborating on large-scale environmental regional programs in Asia and the Pacific.

Mr. Yao cited that the partnership, together with the World Bank, is to develop a new GMS Forests and Biodiversity Program - US$22M of which is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and about US$120M is co-financed to support biodiversity protection, sustainable forest management, and poverty reduction across the GMS region.

"This effort builds on many years of collaboration in the GMS and shows how our partnership can be effective at mobilizing support and financial resources for the benefit of our developing member countries," Yao said.

"The added value of the partnership is our ability to mobilize knowledge, technical assistance, and resources to help countries conserve large scale transboundary ecosystems that are critical for the future of Asia," said Nessim Ahmad, ADB's Director of the Environment and Social Safeguards Division.

Looking forward

Both organizations have expressed their intention to work together on strategic issues and use the comparative advantage of both organizations to contribute to green growth and to preserve the Earth's biodiversity hotspots in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Two heads are better than one and this is needed to address Asia-Pacific's major challenge of steering its economies towards a path of green growth", says Aaron Vermeulen, ADB-WWF Partnership Manager. He emphasized that the unique value and reputability of both organizations enable them to contribute to aligning and mainstreaming the sustainability and security of natural resources in policies and investments in the region.

Tim Geer, Director for WWF's Public Sectors Partnership, added that the two organizations will deepen the partnership within the key regions that represent Asia's vital living resource bases. He adds: "We must make use of each other's comparative advantage and leverage this to increase our effectiveness."

ADB's Green Growth Resources and Resilience Report and the Asia Pacific Ecological Footprint Report, forthcoming joint publications by ADB and WWF, provides a sound framework for the next 10 years.