WWF to shift most Swiss-based staff abroad

12th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

The environmental organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International plans to move abroad 100 of its 170 staff based at its headquarters in Gland in western Switzerland, it has confirmed.

Last Friday, the organisation completed a long-running consultation process among management, human resources and staff at its secretariat in the small lakeside village.

Final decisions on which jobs will be transferred or cut are still to be made, but WWF confirms it plans to relocate 100 of its 170 Switzerland-based staff as part of the new decentralised structure. 

“It will take some time for that consultation to be reviewed and for final decisions on WWF International’s structure to be taken. This provides for locating a hundred functions outside of Gland,” Maria Boulos, WWF International’s acting Chief Operating Officer, told swissinfo.ch. 

WWF International’s declared mission is to “stop the degradation of our planet's natural environment, and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature”.

Boulos said that to meet the future challenges facing the planet, WWF International “must evolve and adapt its strategies”. As a result, she said, “A new structure for WWF’s global conservation programs was decided last year. We arrived at the conclusion that a more decentralized structure of WWF International will enable us to better achieve our mission.” 

Under the restructuring plans, WWF will maintain its secretariat at the small village of Gland, including its director general’s office. 

Redundancies and moves

According to Monday’s edition of the Tribune de Genève/24Heures regional newspapers, several staff have already been made redundant and others told their positions would be moved abroad. The papers cite the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Singapore and Latin America, as possible destinations for the new posts. 

The restructuring process has surprised several local politicians.

“We were never informed of this step that began a year ago,” Gland’s mayor Gérald Cretegny told the papers.

A WWF International employee who had been told his job was moving abroad said anonymously, “The restructuring project has been in the air for about two to three years and I suspect they took on a new director to manage it. We shouldn’t be duped. These measures were taken to save money on the wage bill.”

Boulos said the decentralized strategy will allow WWF to “more effectively implement the new conservation strategy as well as be more efficient with the funds that are entrusted to us”. 

WWF has close to 6,400 staff present in over 65 countries worldwide. In June 2015, total operating expenses stood at $289 million (CHF275 million), of which $12 million was for finance and administration and $29 million for fundraising. The majority was for conservation programmes and public education.


© swissinfo.ch / Simon Bradley
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