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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.

Protecting the Arctic
Shell works with IUCN to better understand the Arctic environment.
Protecting the Arctic
The Arctic is home to indigenous peoples, such as the Nenets in Northern Siberia, who depend on the land and wildlife for their livelihoods. But the Arctic’s sensitive environment is already showing the effects of climate change, with a potential impact on subsistence lifestyles. Most scientists believe man-made carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions are the cause.
Protecting the Arctic
As the ice melts, it also opens up new opportunities for human activities in the Arctic. But development will make the need to balance economic, social and environmental effects increasingly important.
Protecting the Arctic
In 2010, IUCN and the Natural Resources Defense Council began to study the cumulative effects of development in the Arctic and to pinpoint ways to manage future impacts on the region. With Shell’s support, they brought together scientific experts, community representatives, governments and other industries to identify an approach to conserving habitat, protecting wildlife and preserving traditional livelihoods.
This work is aimed at keeping the fragile Arctic ecosystem healthy for future generations. A task force of environmental specialists will use the results of the study to help shape sustainable development policy in the region through their advice to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum that includes indigenous communities and industry.
A new safeguard for shorelines
Working with The Nature Conservancy to shield coastlines from erosion.
A new safeguard for shorelines
At Shamrock Island in Texas, USA, coastal erosion threatens the nesting areas of wading birds. The Gulf of Mexico coastline in the USA has suffered decades of overfishing, pollution and rapid development. This has caused once-abundant natural oyster reefs to almost vanish from the region.
A new safeguard for shorelines
 Oysters and the reefs they form serve as natural water filters. One oyster can filter up to 22 litres (almost six US gallons) of salt water an hour. Large oyster reefs help to prevent coastal erosion by acting as a breakwater. This also reduces the impact of flooding from storm surges on coastal communities, and helps to protect wetlands.
A new safeguard for shorelines
The structurally complex reefs that natural oyster populations build are ideal habitat for marine life and are strong enough to prevent coastal erosion. Shell and The Nature Conservancy are researching ways of constructing artificial reefs to mimic the complexity of natural ones. One technique uses triangular-shaped structures of steel that are filled with oyster shells.  These artificial reefs come to life as oyster larvae attach to them and begin to grow.
As well as the oyster-reef research project, Shell has donated some of the budget of its Gulf of Mexico development, Mars B, to help The Nature Conservancy restore Shamrock Island. “The idea of valuing nature as part of your business model is gaining ground," said Laura Huffman, director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. "This is important to consumers and to the planet."
The business of conservation
How Earthwatch and Shell are working together to help improve the way world heritage sites are managed.
The business of conservation
Managing protected natural areas, such as Mutulu National Park in Malaysia, requires knowledge of plants and wildlife. For the managers of UNESCO World Heritage sites it also means knowing how to run a business effectively. They must protect such areas while managing the growing tourism that brings vital funds to the sites. 
The business of conservation
Since 2009, Earthwatch and UNESCO have together run Business Skills for World Heritage, a programme that pairs site managers with business leaders from Shell. "What we are doing here is bringing together people and organisations with diverse skills and experiences to share their knowledge,” explains Claire Lippold, Programme Manager at Earthwatch. “This programme will help to ensure that some of these most beautiful and threatened places on Earth face a safer future." 
The business of conservation
Each training course lasts a year. World Heritage site managers and Shell mentors, as they are known, work together, beginning with a face-to-face session, then following up through email, conference calls or further visits.  At the training session pictured, site manager Jean Hervé Bakarizafy and Shell mentor Peter Webb begin to build an effective business plan for the Marojejy National Park in Malaysia. 
In Kenya, Shell mentor Adetoun Mustapha meets school children to learn about local plant life. Through the programme, Shell people who work on energy projects can better understand how to protect biodiversity.  And by early 2012, Business Skills for World Heritage had helped 44 UNESCO site managers improve their understanding of the business side of their roles.
Developing cool tools
A new software tool Wetlands International and Shell are testing could help preserve precious wetlands.
Developing cool tools
Wetlands exist in most regions of the world. In addition to natural wetlands such as lakes, peatlands and marshes, there are also man-made wetlands like rice paddies. They all support the livelihoods of millions of people and provide habitat for many unique species.
Developing cool tools

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.

Developing cool tools

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.”