Integrating Biodiversity Conservation into Oil & Gas Developments

Author: Energy and Biodiversity Initiative (EBI)
Date: 2003
Categories: Environment, Good practice, Reports

“The Energy and Biodiversity Initiative (EBI) was created to develop and promote practices for integrating biodiversity conservation into upstream oil and gas development. The Initiative seeks to be a positive force for biodiversity conservation by bringing together leading energy companies and conservation organisations to share experiences  and build on intellectual capital to create value and influence key audiences. The nine members of EBI are BP, CHEVRON, Conservation International, Flora & Fauna International, IUCN – The World Conservation Union, The Nature Conservancy, SHELL, Smithsonian Institute, STATOIL. .. The EBI partnership was designed to produce practical guidelines, tools and models to improve the environmental performance of energy operations, minimize harm to biodiversity, and maximize opportunities for conservation wherever oil and gas resources are developed. … This report presents a summary of the analysis and conclusions of the EBI to date.. .. ” Increasingly, areas of interest for oil and gas development are also being recognized and valued for their biodiversity resources. Biodiversity, the complex web of genes, species, ecosystems and ecological processes that sustain life on Earth, provides human society with food, medicines, natural resources, ecological services and spiritual and aesthetic benefits. Yet, this biodiversity is under greater threat than ever before from human activities. While oil and gas operations are often not the biggest threat to biodiversity in an area, they can have a wide range of negative impacts on ecosystems. In some cases, company activities may also make a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation. With increasing demand for energy and the likelihood that oil and gas will be used to meet much of this demand over the next several decades, the risk to biodiversity from energy development projects is expected to increase.”

“The juxtaposition of energy needs and biodiversity values has led to some difficult challenges for both the energy industry and the conservation community. For energy companies, the challenge is to find a way to meet the public demand for abundant, low-cost oil and gas products and, at the same time, meet society’s expectations for corporate social and environmental responsibility, including biodiversity protection… For conservation organizations, the challenge is to be a strong voice for biodiversity conservation while working with industry to find the balance between the potential threats that oil and gas development represents and the opportunities for harnessing the influence, expertise and resources of energy companies for conservation efforts…”

“While this report and other products of the EBI focus specifically on biodiversity, it is important to note that biodiversity conservation is an integral component of the goals of sustainable development. There are many other important issues surrounding energy development and its environmental and social impacts, including the rights of indigenous people, the dependence of local communities on biodiversity, overlaps between lands set aside for legal protection and lands customarily owned or used by indigenous people, the role of governments, the impact of oil spills associated with shipping and the contribution of use of fossil fuels to global climate change. While we have chosen to address only biodiversity issues in this Initiative, we recognize that biodiversity cannot and should not be considered in isolation, but can only be managed properly if it is considered in conjunction with other sustainable development issues and potential areas of impact, including social and economic considerations, pollution and health issues.”

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