Biodiversity is under threat around the world: the International Union for Conservation of Nature states that more than 22,000 species were at risk of extinction in 2015, while 20% of the world’s tropical forests and 50% of its global wetlands have been destroyed in the past 50 years.
We apply stringent standards to help reduce any impacts our operations may have, particularly in critical habitats, which are areas that are rich in biodiversity or under protection. We were first in the energy industry to launch a biodiversity standard, back in 2001.
The biodiversity of an area is assessed when we conduct impact assessments for any new major project or large expansions to existing operations. We carefully consider the potential environmental impact of our activities and how local communities may be affected before, during and after operations.
We also develop biodiversity action plans for major operations and before we start projects in sensitive environments. This helps us to identify and minimise any impacts during planning, operations and at decommissioning. Measures are taken to restore habitats or ecosystems that are close to our operations.
Our standards are designed in line with relevant international standards, including those set by the International Finance Corporation.
Working with biodiversity experts
We work with several conservation organisations, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International and Earthwatch. Our projects with biodiversity partners include working to restore natural habitats and ecosystems close to our operations.
For example, with Wetlands International we are working to identify and assess critical habitats in regions of the Arctic. Wetlands International has developed a tool that predicts the distribution of Arctic species. The information it generates follows International Finance Corporation performance standards and will become part of Shell's standard biodiversity screening tools. It has been used by our project teams to screen for sensitive areas and to help manage and prevent potentially adverse impacts on Arctic biodiversity.
Protecting the oceans
Biodiversity in the oceans is at risk from overfishing, pollution, climate change and other factors. We are collaborating with governments, non-governmental organisations and other experts to find ways to protect the planet’s marine biodiversity.
For example, we are helping local communities in the Philippines conserve part of the world’s most biodiverse marine environment, known as the Coral Triangle. Traditionally, coastal villagers here have depended on fishing for their livelihood. Today, there are fewer fish to catch. A programme with Shell and the Malampaya Foundation is helping thousands of fishermen to adopt alternative sources of income and protect the environment. This will help to conserve the coral and replenish fish stocks.