Preserving nature and biodiversity
Sep 10, 2021
Shell Projects and Technology Director Harry Brekelmans represented Shell at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille. On LinkedIn he reflects on Shell’s role in shaping a future of cleaner energy.
Last week I had the pleasure to represent Shell at the CEO Summit of the IUCN World Conservation Congress. It’s the first time I’ve physically attended an event since early 2020, and in case you wonder, yes, it did feel strange to be part of such a forum in person again. Since the start of the pandemic, Shell strictly limits business travel. We only make an exception for the most crucial travel. For Shell, the IUCN World Conservation Congress is a reason to make an exception, as we are determined to rise to the challenge climate change provides.
The challenges of climate change and preserving nature and biodiversity are so big and so urgent that we all have to work together in an unprecedented way. We believe that collaboration, sector by sector, between Shell, customers, partners, suppliers, regulators, governments and wider society is the key to success.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it, and an important partner for Shell. We have a long-standing and productive relationship, executing more than 50 joint projects so far.
The World Conservation Congress is usually held every four years and brings business, academia, government institutions and non-government organisations (NGOs) together. It is the perfect place to share our own message of collaboration, and learn from the viewpoints and expertise of other organisations.
During the panel discussion at the event’s first-ever CEO Summit, I was asked how Shell is working to address climate change and loss of biodiversity. I shared that preserving nature and biodiversity are crucial elements of Shell’s strategy, Powering Progress. Powering Progress will transform Shell over the coming decades, putting sustainability at the heart of how we do business. It reiterates how we are working towards becoming a net-zero emissions energy company in step with society, and sets out the role Shell will play in helping the world transition to a lower-carbon energy system.
I received interesting follow-up questions, during the panel session and after, in the hallways. Some questions were challenging or critical, but the conversations were always constructive. I was for instance asked that since Shell business plans do not yet get us to net-zero, what Shell is doing right now to put our strategy to practice, and how our course leads to tangible results.
We have made “respecting nature” one of the four goals of our strategy, and step up our ambitions on many of fronts. We outline our commitment to make a positive impact on biodiversity and the prevention of deforestation, on the reduction of waste, and on fresh water conservation – you can read more on our goals, methods, and tangible targets here.
Preserving nature and biodiversity is complicated. Even renewable energy projects, key to achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, risk causing damage to local ecosystems if poorly planned. To make sure the right thing is done on project level, we were one of many partners working with the IUCN to develop detailed guidelines on how companies can do more to protect biodiversity.
A trial that saw the reintroduction of oyster beds, installed on offshore wind turbines, is one example of our efforts to make a difference. That trial is supported by the Blauwwind consortium, in which Shell is one of five participants. It’s a great example of collaboration that powers progress.
What I have heard during the congress strengthens my belief that together we can shape a future of cleaner energy. And you can be sure of Shell: we are committed to playing our part.
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