Embedding sustainability in projects

Our commitment to safety, the environment and communities plays an important role in how we plan, design and operate projects and facilities. We will continue our relentless focus on managing impacts, especially in the challenging environments where we operate.

When we invest in projects, we aim to balance the short- and long-term interests of our business. For investment decisions, we consider the economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities as well as the political and technical risks.

Shell conducts an environmental, social and health impact assessment for every major project. As part of the impact assessment process, we engage with communities and other stakeholders, for example non-governmental organisations, to discuss possible ways to address their concerns. This helps us understand and better manage the effects our projects could have on the surrounding environment and local communities and to comply with relevant social and environmental regulations.

Our Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Performance () Control Framework has mandatory requirements to ensure the performance of these impact assessments. We also draw on international standards from bodies such as the World Bank and its International Finance Corporation, to guide our engagement with communities.

Our people

We train our project teams to understand how to use impact assessments to embed sustainability into project decisions. They are supported by specialists in areas such as environmental management, health and social performance including, but not limited to:

  • biodiversity, waste, air, energy and water management; and
  • indigenous peoples’ rights, cultural heritage and resettlement.

The specialists support project teams on impact assessments and help manage potential impacts on communities or the environment during project design, construction and operation.

For more details, read what sustainability means at Shell on www.shell.com.

An interactive guide to sustainability across the life of a project

Click on the icons to see examples of how we plan or develop new activities around the world.

A guide to sustainability across the life of a project

Project life cycle (infographic)
Identify and assess
Decommission and restore

1Colombia baseline work. In Colombia, where we have several exploration blocks offshore, conducting extensive environmental baseline studies is a legal requirement, including sampling of aquatic animals. We collaborated with local fishermen to get better quality data. During 2016 and 2017, the fishermen were trained and given equipment, including a GPS to mark locations. They were also given cameras, to label and document the fish they caught. This resulted in a representative list of the main species caught in each fishing area and mapped variations throughout the year, providing a firm basis for the evaluation of the marine biodiversity, frequency and abundance of species. The fishermen benefited from this knowledge and received training to improve their safety. The project received positive recognition from local authorities.

2Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, USA, our project to build a petrochemical facility will involve redeveloping an existing industrial site used for zinc smelting for around 100 years.

3Groundbirch reclamation work. We comply with the terms of our permits, agreements and local laws and regulations concerning restoration of the land used by our operations. In Canada, for example, at the Shell Groundbirch project, where we use hydraulic fracturing to unlock gas trapped in rock, we are working with a First Nations indigenous community plant nursery to preserve their cultural heritage and the natural habitat. Seeds from local indigenous plants are collected and planted above pipelines and other infrastructure in the area. Matching plants with their natural habitats increases the chance of survival and results in a landscape that is more diverse and natural. First Nation community members participate in the restoration efforts, carrying out work that builds on their knowledge of plants and the ecosystem.

Identify people who may be interested in or affected by the project.

Engage with stakeholders (e.g. communities, host governments and NGOs) and feed responses into our risk analyses and decision-making process.

Speech bubble (icon)
Speech bubble (icon)
Speech bubble (icon)
Speech bubble (icon)
Speech bubble (icon)
Speech bubble (icon)

Conduct baseline studies of the local environment (e.g. water, biodiversity, social livelihoods) and consider how the project may affect it.

Based in assessment of potential impacts and stakeholder engagement, identify mitigation and enhancement measures.

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Pencil (icon)
Pencil (icon)

Implement a mitigation plan for project development, construction and operation.

New life for an old industrial site

In Pennsylvania, USA, we are building a petrochemicals facility on an existing industrial site used for zinc smelting for around 100 years.

Minimising the impact on people and the local environment is at the heart of our plans.

After the zinc smelter had been safely decommissioned, we recycled the old equipment and waste products. We covered the site with special industrial liners and caps to protect groundwater and surface water and people building the new facility. Where areas of water on the site could not be protected, we created wetlands elsewhere. These have now grown into healthy habitats for fish and vegetation.

We used an emissions offsetting programme to help reduce the impact that building work will have on local air quality. After consulting with local residents and community leaders, we also planted native trees along the nearby river to improve the look of the construction site.

Working closely with the state environmental regulator, we are investing $80 million in mitigating the environmental impacts of converting the industrial site. Once up and running, the plant will produce polyethylene which is used in many everyday products, from food packaging and containers to automotive components.

health, safety, security, environment and social performance
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