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Our approach to respecting nature

Respecting nature is part of our Powering Progress strategy. We recognise there is a growing global urgency to protect and enhance biodiversity, conserve fresh water and use resources more efficiently.

The links between nature and climate are recognised in the UN Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework of 2022 and in discussions at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28). We will work with governments and others to help implement the framework, which provides a common direction and targets for governments to take action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

As a business, we use natural resources such as land, water and materials for our operations. Our activities can have an impact on nature through discharges and emissions to the environment, and through changes to the use of land and water including oceans.

Respecting the environment and local communities has been integral to the way we do business for many years, as set out in the Shell General Business Principles and Shell Commitment and Policy on Health, Security, Safety, the Environment and Social Performance. 

Our Executive Committee is accountable for delivery of respecting nature, progress towards which is reviewed by our Board’s Sustainability Committee (SUSCO).

Our progress

For a large global organisation like Shell, implementing a change programme for respecting nature has many elements and is a multi-year journey. Since launch in 2021, we have:

  • worked to embed respecting nature into our activities and business processes;
  • enhanced our internal performance management systems to track and report on progress; and
  • continued to build employees’ awareness, knowledge and skills to deepen their understanding of respecting nature.

We are also updating our environmental standards and guidance used by our projects and facilities around the world.

In 2023, we reviewed our progress and performance on respecting nature.

We consolidated our respecting nature ambitions into the following themes: having a positive impact on biodiversity, aiming for zero waste and using water, other resources and materials efficiently.

We have already achieved some of the commitments we set when we launched respecting nature in 2021. Our commitment to reduce fresh-water consumption in highly water-stressed areas by 15% was achieved ahead of the target date of 2025. We have also conducted detailed assessments to inform our approach to fresh water and waste, which will be tailored to local conditions.

We have concluded that the scale of our ambition to use 1 million tonnes of plastic waste a year in our global chemical plants by 2025 is unfeasible due to lack of available plastic waste feedstock, slow technology development and regulatory uncertainty. We continue to work with partners across the plastic waste value chain, such as the waste management industry and pyrolysis oil producers, to help develop a circular value chain globally (see Plastics).

The remaining commitments announced in 2021 have either been incorporated into our new Safety, Environment and Asset Management (SEAM) Standards, which take effect from mid-2024, or are included in the relevant business objectives and processes.

Our approach, ambition and priorities are shown in the graphic below.

You can read more in the other respecting nature sections and more about our approach at

Respecting nature

Our ambition is to have a positive impact on biodiversity, aim for zero waste and use water, other resources and materials efficiently.

We will work with governments and others to help implement the UN Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which provides a common direction and targets for governments to take action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

We will seek to use relevant common standards and frameworks.

  • World Heritage Sites: We will not explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources in natural and mixed World Heritage Sites.
  • Critical habitats: Our new projects in areas rich in biodiversity — critical habitats — will have a net positive impact on biodiversity, commencing from 2021.
  • Forest habitats: We will replant forests, achieving net-zero deforestation from new activities, while maintaining biodiversity and conservation value, commencing from 2022.
  • Circularity and waste: Our businesses are developing local waste management plans. We are exploring ways to improve the application of circular economy principles by developing circularity strategies.
  • Water stewardship: We are implementing water stewardship principles across our businesses and developing local improvement plans. This includes focusing on the sustainable management of fresh water, including in water-stressed areas.
  • Plastic packaging: We will work with our suppliers and contractors to help end plastic waste in the environment: By 2030, we will increase the amount of recycled plastic in Shell-branded packaging to 30% and ensure that the packaging we use for our products is reusable or recyclable. [A]

Our standard contract terms require adherence to the Shell Supplier Principles or equivalent principles that include statements on complying with environmental laws and regulations, using energy and natural resources efficiently, and minimising waste, emissions and discharges. We continue to explore how we can source responsibly in our supply chain. [A]

Underpinned by our Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Performance (HSSE & SP) Commitment and Policy and Control Framework and, from mid-2024, our new Safety, Environment and Asset Management (SEAM) Standards.

[A] These priorities are delivered through business objectives and processes outside of the SEAM Standards.

28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Conferences
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Safety, Environment and Asset Management
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United Nations
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Zero waste
The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health (Zero Waste International Alliance, 2018).
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