As part of our Respecting Nature goal, we have set an ambition to have a positive impact on biodiversity. Two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals focus on this area: SDG 14 Life below water and SDG 15 Life on land.
Our ambition and commitments
Our ambition is to have a positive impact on biodiversity.
Our Respecting Nature commitments
Our new projects in areas rich in biodiversity – critical habitats1 – will have a net positive impact2 on biodiversity, starting implementation in 2021.
Our nature-based solutions projects, which protect, transform or restore land, will have a net positive impact2 on biodiversity, starting implementation in 2021.
We will replant forests, achieving net-zero deforestation3 from new activities, while maintaining biodiversity and conservation value, starting implementation in 2022.
Other related commitments
We will not explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources in natural and mixed World Heritage Sites.
We will further improve the way we operate in International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category I-IV protected areas, and areas of high biodiversity value.
We will publicly report on our activities in IUCN Category I-IV protected areas.
We will work with IUCN and others to help safeguard protected areas.
Our biofuels business has set out its approach for sustainable sourcing of biocomponents which includes requirements around biodiversity.
Our approach to biodiversity
What we do as an energy company can affect local habitats and the communities that depend on them. When planning a new project on land or offshore in the marine environment, we use the mitigation hierarchy – a decision-making framework that involves a sequence of four key actions: avoid, minimise, restore and offset. We assess the potential impact of projects on biodiversity as part of our Impact Assessment process.
Our priority is to avoid negatively impacting biodiversity and ecosystems. For example, by avoiding certain areas and timing our activities so that we do not disturb sensitive species. Where we cannot avoid, we aim to minimise our impact, for example by designing parts of our operations to reduce their effect on local wildlife.
Where our operations have affected biodiversity, we take steps to restore habitats, for example by planting native vegetation which enhances biodiversity. We also look for opportunities to make a positive contribution to conservation, such as taking part in environmental research projects or conservation initiatives.
Read examples in Biodiversity in Action of how we work to protect biodiversity near our existing operations and projects both on land and in marine environments.
Operating in areas rich in biodiversity
Shell believes some areas are too sensitive to enter. In 2003 we made an industry-leading commitment not to explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources in natural and mixed World Heritage Sites. This commitment applies to both land and in the marine environment.
This commitment applies to new projects from February 2021.
We have embedded this commitment into our process and systems: Potential new projects are screened to determine if they are located in a critical habitat. If we decide to progress a project that is in a critical habitat, we develop a biodiversity plan. This sets out the actions needed to follow the mitigation hierarchy, which includes to avoid and minimise and, where there is impact, the actions needed to achieve net positive impact. We are working with external experts to help develop and refine our approach and methodology, including metrics to report on our progress.
Evidence of enhancement and a net positive impact on biodiversity may take time, to demonstrate, but we will report our progress annually in our Sustainability Report.
As well as reducing and avoiding CO2 emissions, nature-based solutions (NBS) projects can protect and restore biodiversity. We are investing in protecting and enhancing natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands and wetlands, to capture carbon from the atmosphere and help our customers offset their emissions.
Now we plan to go further and demonstrate net positive impact for biodiversity in our NBS projects.
In 2021, we started work to embed this new commitment into our NBS business and to define our approach and metrics which we will use to report on our progress going forward.
We have set a new commitment that we will replant forests, achieving net-zero deforestation from new activities, while maintaining biodiversity and conservation value.
This requires identifying areas for replanting to ensure that ecological integrity is maintained.
During 2021, this commitment was incorporated into our reporting systems and other internal processes and guidance. New activities in scope have been identified, enabling us to start implementation from 2022.
Achieving net-zero deforestation can take many years, but we will share our progress annually.
Working with others
We have a long history of working alongside our global environmental partners: the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Earthwatch.
In 2021, we collaborated with the IUCN, other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other energy companies to develop guidelines for mitigating the impact of solar and wind projects on biodiversity.
Read more about our partnerships at environmental and social partners.
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Managing impacts and making a positive contribution to biodiversity in our operations.
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We are reducing waste and applying the principles of a circular economy across our businesses and supply chains. This means placing value on reusing resources by moving from a linear system to one where materials are reused, repurposed and recycled, helping to reduce pressure on the world’s resources. Reducing waste and the efficient use of resources are key to UN Sustainability Development Goal 12, which focuses on responsible production and consumption.