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New Director General takes up post at WWF International


05 Dec 2005
Gland, Switzerland – James P Leape, a 50-year old American, today officially takes over as the Director General of WWF International. He will lead one of the world’s largest independent conservation organizations with 4,400 staff and offices in more than 100 countries.

Mr Leape has worked in nature conservation for more than 25 years. He began his career as an environmental lawyer, working on environmental protection cases in the United States, advising the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and co-authoring a text on environmental law.

He joined WWF-US in 1989 and for ten years directed its worldwide conservation programmes, serving as Executive Vice-President. For the last four years, Mr Leape directed the conservation and science initiatives of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, one of the largest conservation funders in the world.

“From the changing climate to the collapse of fisheries, the challenges of conservation have never been more urgent, or more important to the well-being of people everywhere,“ Leape said upon taking up his post. ”With programmes and supporters all over the world, WWF is uniquely positioned to meet these challenges.”

Mr Leape will succeed Dr Claude Martin, who has been WWF International’s Director General for the past 12 years. During this time he pioneered new approaches in international conservation, including target-driven environmental policy and international partnerships such as the WWF-World Bank Alliance on Forest Conservation and partnerships with Lafarge, Nokia and Canon. Dr Martin will continue to represent WWF in a number of high-level advisory bodies such as the China Council and help to build a volunteer network of young conservationists.

“We have achieved much in the 44 years of WWF’s existence, but given the continuing degradation of our natural world, so much more needs to be done" said Chief Emeka Anyaoku, President and Board Chair of WWF International.

“I am convinced that under Jim Leape’s leadership, the global WWF network will fare exceedingly well in our mission to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.”

Mr Leape will be leading the WWF delegation to the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong, where WWF will be hosting a joint event with UNEP on fishing subsidies and lobbying for international trade rules that ensure sustainable development.


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