Shell has four main environmental partnerships with Earthwatch, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Wetlands International. Working with our partners leads to improvements in our projects and operations and can help to advance science and conservation knowledge.
We have been involved in more than 50 initiatives with IUCN, the world’s largest conservation network, over the last 15 years. Our joint work includes a focus on conserving biodiversity and strengthening the management of protected areas. We also fund the work of IUCN and the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre to maintain the free and publicly available World Database on Protected Areas.
IUCN and one of its member non-governmental organisations, Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team, have been working with Shell in Nigeria to support the IUCN Niger Delta Panel. Now in its third year, the panel has been recommending approaches to oil spill remediation, biodiversity rehabilitation as well as improving Shell operational procedures. The panel will prepare recommendations on biodiversity conservation to Shell and other parties in 2015.
Wetlands International has been a partner since 2008. We have worked together on several joint projects across the world, from the critical habitats in the Arctic to the peatswamp forests in Brunei. In Iraq, Wetlands International worked with us to develop a biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods action plan to work on the sensitive marshlands near our Majnoon project. Restoration of these marshlands will help the environment and the communities who depend on this resource for their livelihoods. In 2014, Wetlands International developed several guidance documents establishing wetlands criteria that are being used by Shell in the design of its projects.
Our work with TNC has continued for more than 14 years. A current project focuses on preventing coastal erosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The work creates living shorelines by using natural sediment, vegetation and oyster reefs to improve the resilience of the Louisiana coastline. A natural buffer is created to protect both the shoreline and Shell pipelines from erosion. These living shorelines also preserve or create habitat for marine organisms, which can benefit local fishing businesses.
In Colombia, TNC has been working with Shell at the Magdalena River watershed – a place of important environmental and cultural significance. We are evaluating the potential impact of our operations on local ecosystems with a particular focus on biodiversity. A pilot conservation area has been selected to analyse the environmental impacts.
Project Better World, our employee volunteering partnership with Earthwatch, is now in its 17th year. Shell sponsors employees to take part in scientific expeditions in which they deepen their understanding of sustainability in areas such as climate change or water. We also continue to run a business mentoring programme with Earthwatch in which Shell employees provide mentoring to managers in organisations that look after protected areas. These programmes offer opportunities for Shell employees to apply sustainability principles in practice.