The World Wildlife Fund announced the transformation of the WWF International Danube-Carpathian Program to the WWF Central and Eastern Europe (WWF-CEE), in order to better reflect the broader geographical scope of the organization, extending beyond the Danube and Carpathian ecoregions, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.
The regional organization includes legal entities in five countries (WWF-Romania, WWF-Hungary, WWF-Bulgaria, WWF-Slovakia and WWF-Ukraine) as well as an Austrian-registered association that serves as a secretariat.
WWF-CEE will manage WWF engagement via consultancies and partner organizations in Moldova and Czech Republic while providing overall leadership and coordination for WWF’s activities in the Danube and Carpathian ecoregions.
WWF says that the organization will continue to provide input for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, and the Convention for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathian Mountains (Carpathian Convention).
The name change also reflects the deeper transformation of the organization. As of April 2019, governance of the organization transferred from WWF International to a board of directors drawn from and involved with the region. Bulgarian native Sasha Bezuhanova was elected as the first chairperson, having left a 20-year executive career at Hewlett-Packard. Jean-Paul Paddack, executive director of network development at WWF International, serves as vice chair.
Other board members include: former Czech Minister of Environment Ladislav Miko; Romanian psychologist and anthropologist, as well as founder and CEO of RoCoach, Mihai Stanescu; the head of corporate sustainability center at Magyar Telekom and Planet Fanaticsʼ Network founder Katalin Szomolányi; WWF-Germany board member Jürgen Schmidt; WWF-Austria CEO and finance specialist and chairperson of the WWF-CEE finance committee Andrea Johanides; and WWF-Belgium CEO Antoine Lebrun.
WWF International will continue to have a controlling interest in WWF-CEE for the next year, after which the regional body will become the first multi-country, self-governing organization that is a full member of the WWF Network.
"The transformation into WWF-CEE will help us increase our effectiveness as a change agent for addressing the existential challenges facing humankind in and from our region," notes Andreas Beckmann, regional CEO.
"In the next years, we plan to substantially increase our engagement with citizens, consumers and activists in order to secure many of Europe’s greatest remaining areas of virgin and old growth forests; conserve and restore valuable wetland areas such as the Danube Delta and the Mura-Drava-Danube corridor; and preserve Europe’s greatest remaining populations of sturgeon and large carnivores."