According to Prince Charles, the human race is, well, doomed. In his first speech as the newly appointed president of the World Wide Fund for Nature UK (WWF-UK), Prince Charles claimed human beings are already “an endangered species”, and that the world is already in the “sixth extinction event.”
It’s not the first time that Prince Charles has gone a little over the top with his rhetoric. Previously the Prince claimed that those who even questioned his alarmist views were playing “a reckless game of roulette” with the environment. In another comment he claimed that we had just eighteen months to save the planet. That was in May, 2008.
But in his role as president of WWF-UK, the Prince now has yet another platform to interfere in the political process, and to step perilously close to violating Britain’s unwritten constitution. Given that WWF-UK is one of the most politically active and recognisable organisations in the country, his involvement deserves a close look.
WWF-UK may be regarded as relatively benign, but they are in fact promoting a range of policy initiatives that are seriously damaging to the health and economic well-being of some of poorest people in the world. An article on the EurActiv website recently highlighted how WWF and Greenpeace – both celebrating anniversaries – may have similar objectives, but it argued that their tactics and the ways in which they carry out their campaigns differ significantly. But while this may be true, it is also completely irrelevant.
WWF – like Greenpeace – pursues a policy of conservation at all costs, irrespective of the outcomes. Their policies do of course lead to sustainability: sustainable unemployment and poverty in the developing world. In most cases, developing nations actually conserve more of their countries than their western counterparts. However, despite sitting in their ivory towers, the folks at WWF and Greenpeace often struggle to see that.
As I have written before, much of these efforts are supported by government funds, and as a result, everyone who pays taxes is funding WWF-UK and its international chapters, amounting to millions of pounds. WWF also uses Lottery funds to launch campaigns that prevent developing nations from trading in goods that they actually produce. WWF-UK has received almost £1.3 million from the ‘Big Lottery Fund’, facilitating a £395,000 contribution for ‘Heart of Borneo’, an initiative they launched to preserve forests in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Ignoring the fact that some people in Islamic culture are gravely offended by the fact that funds earned from gambling are diverted towards programs in their countries, these initiatives are deeply misguided.
We really have to start to recognize the complicity of WWF – and now Prince Charles – in supporting an anti-development agenda. Is it really acceptable for Britain to be channeling money to a conservation effort that lacks credibility or the support of developing communities? Does this not undermine our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals?
Obviously, being outspoken is not a problem — even for a future monarch. But through his new role as president of WWF-UK, Prince Charles will be in a much stronger position to provide advocacy – and funding – for an organisation that deliberately attempts to hurt the developing world and keep the price of goods high for western consumers.
The next time the Prince launches a tirade against the developing world’s desire for economic growth and prosperity, we should keep this in mind.