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Partnering to protect nature
The search for energy to meet rising demand increasingly leads companies into environmentally sensitive areas. But as global population grows, so does the need to protect the planet’s health. Working closely with environmental organisations can help companies developing new energy projects take effective steps to preserve the natural world.
Partnering to protect nature
Global population is rising rapidly. And in the coming decades, hundreds of millions of people will start using more energy as they buy their first cars, refrigerators and computers.
Increasingly, the rising demand for energy is pushing the search for oil and gas into more remote and environmentally sensitive areas.
To reduce the environmental impact of our operations, Shell works in partnership with leading environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wetlands International, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Earthwatch.
Shell’s work with these NGOs has spanned a number of years and allows it to gain a better understanding of the environment.
That helps improve its approach to developing new energy projects, or extending existing ones. In 2011, Shell worked on more than 35 projects with these organisations.
Shell was a forerunner in the idea that major companies should work alongside such organisations, and has now taken this approach to a new level of collaboration.
Today Shell’s partnerships with environmental NGOs focus on advancing the conservation of the natural world across various industries and in many parts of the world.
Human activities can threaten wetlands and, as a consequence, wetland habitats have been disappearing at an alarming rate around the world. Shell and Wetlands International have developed a software tool that provides information on how specific oil and gas development activities affect wetland values. These include their impacts on biodiversity and people who depend on wetlands for food, security and work.
The tool is called the Wetlands Pre-Impact Assessment Tool, WPIAT for short. It walks the user through a series of questions on the local wetland environment and proposed activities to identify the kind of wetland it is and its sensitivities, as well as the potential impacts related to the planned activities. It also identifies the best ways to reduce the impact. The aim is to use the tool to inform the processes used by industry to assess the potential impact of new energy projects and ultimately improve their design.
It could also have a wider use. “In the future, we plan to adapt this tool for use by other sectors such as mining or tourism, as well as regulators,” says Ward Hagemeijer, Corporate Relations Manager at Wetlands International. “By improving knowledge of how development affects sensitive wetland environments and how industry should factor this in, we aim to help protect the wetlands – benefitting the people and biodiversity that depend on them.”