Mrs Guilda Navidi-Walker has been described as “The architect of Diplomatic work” for WWF by Francis Sullivan, Advisor for the Environment at global bank HSBC, and a former Director of Conservation at WWF.
Educated at the Lycee of Monte Carlo, she completed her first degree at Notre Dame University California in 1969, then went to Stanford where she completed her Masters in Communications and lectured in philosophy at the University of Mauritius. She then worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Lome, Togo. In 1976 she moved to the UK and worked at Sotheby's in the research department on the provenance of paintings.
A practicing Baha’i, her support of WWF started in 1987 when the Baha'is were invited to join the Alliance of Religion and Conservation (ARC) and worked closely with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. Following her parents’ diplomatic work, she has established and developed very close links with the diplomatic community, which have been used to WWF’s good advantage.
Guilda was initially inspired by the work of Dr Richard Saint Barbe Baker. Dr Baker was an English forester and founder of the “Men of the Trees” which eventually grew to be known as the “International Tree Foundation”. He contributed greatly to worldwide reforestation efforts, through arranging a series of Diplomatic conventions in London from 1945 to 1970, which came to be known as World Forestry Charter Gatherings. The gatherings inspired greater international cooperation and secured several landmark agreements including the international proclamation of a ‘green front’ against the deserts, as well as support for the first Saharan university expedition.
Guilda initiated and organised a Diplomatic gathering in London, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dr Richard Saint Barbe Baker in 1989, followed by the World Forestry Charter Gathering hosted by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at St James’ Palace in July 1994. This was done in collaboration with WWF and the Baha’i International Community and was the first World Forestry Charter Gathering to be held since 1970. She obtained personal commitments and support from President Clinton, as well as the then British Prime Minister, John Major.
In 1997 she led the launch of the Forests for Life Campaign on behalf of WWF, which President Cardoso of Brazil, as well as 18 other Heads of State attended in person. President Cardozo pledged to protect 41 million hectares of the Amazon Rain Forest to secure a future for the region’s biodiversity. This marked the single largest commitment to protecting the world’s rainforests in history.
From 1995 to 2011, Guilda initiated and spear headed the coordination of three international gatherings for WWF. The Yaounde Summit in March 1999 and the Danube Carpathian summit in April 2001, were both attended by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
In October 2008 Guilda was honoured to receive the prestigious WWF “Leaders for a Living Planet” award. The award was presented at the annual WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Awards held at St James’ Palace in London, in the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, President Emeritus of WWF International, and also the London based Diplomatic Community.
WWF has gained privileged and direct access to Presidents and Ministers for the Environment operating within the International Community, through Guilda's lobbying Ambassadors at the Court of St James. The personal involvement of Ambassadors in London, Ministers and Heads of State, has given rise to closer and greater collaboration with WWF to advance the organisations diplomatic agenda more efficiently and rapidly. This would not have been possible without the support of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh who has been a passionate advocate for WWF.