“At first sight, our collaboration with Shell can raise eyebrows. But when you realise that most oil and gas reserves are in wetland areas and the majority of Shell’s operations affect wetlands, from the Arctic to the tropics, then the link becomes clearer. As the search for oil and gas is being extended further afield and also energy production is and processing is becoming more water intensive, wetlands are more and more under pressure. By working in collaboration with Shell, Wetlands International can bring some influence to bear, for example by helping to identify potential environmental impacts at an early stage and contributing to the development of alternative approaches and solutions.” Jane Madgwick, CEO Wetlands International
Wetlands International and Shell are currently engaged in a Collaborative Framework Agreement for four years (2013-2017). Under the Agreement, Wetlands International and Shell are committed to work together to improve public and corporate policies and practices, so that the world’s wetlands are “wisely used” and restored for the role they play in improving human well-being and local livelihoods, conserving biodiversity, sustaining the water cycle and mitigating the impacts of climate change. This follows a five-year collaboration that established a “critical friend” relationship between the organisations and initiated several joint projects in places where the operations of Shell and its Affiliates have significant implications for wetlands.
Examples of work already underway include:
- In Iraq we developed a biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods action plan to reduce the impact of operations on internationally significant wetlands, safeguard precious fresh water resources and enable restoration efforts.
- In Brunei we are developing a biodiversity action plan to reduce the footprint of Brunei Shell Petroleum on peatswamp forests, as well as a fire awareness and prevention strategy.
- In the Arctic we provide key information on how to reduce the negative impacts of oil exploitation on wetlands and the people whose livelihoods depend on them.
- In the Niger Delta we engage with multiple stakeholders to recognise and integrate the value of wetlands into future development plans and investments. We also work with local NGOs to provide knowledge and incentives to the communities so they can better manage and restore delta wetlands and their natural resources.
Our future focus will include exploring jointly how to use combinations of wetlands (green infrastructure) and traditional infrastructure to protect Shell operations in vulnerable areas, and to consider how to better use ecosystem approaches in addressing water-related business risks.