Lessons from independent IUCN Niger Delta Panel demonstrate industry can mainstream biodiversity, says IUCN

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, 18 November 2018 (IUCN) –  An independent scientific panel established to help The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited’s (SPDC) operation in Niger Delta improve oil spill remediation and biodiversity recovery illustrates that companies in the oil and gas sector can mainstream biodiversity into their policies and operations, according to IUCN, which released a new report on the lessons learned.

Remediation work at Lewe spill site, Nigeria.

Unveiled at the UN Biodiversity Conference – or 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – the report examines how the IUCN Niger Delta Panel, which operated from 2012-2016, continues to influence the company’s biodiversity policies and practices.

The second in a series of reports, IUCN Niger Delta Panel: Stories of Influence explores the outcomes of the independent Panel’s evidence-based recommendations to SPDC.

The report documents how the Panel’s recommendations resulted in new company guidance, standards and partnerships.  For example, the Panel’s advice encouraged the company to develop a biodiversity conservation strategy, and strengthened its oil spill and emergency response approach, which led to a new remediation standard. 

The IUCN Niger Delta Panel also produced a report calling for the development of a biodiversity strategy for the region and spurred the company to publish new guidance on mangrove habitats, which has since been shared internationally.

“The collaboration with the IUCN Niger Delta Panel experts showed that when faced with challenging environmental issues, companies can benefit from external, evidence-based advice,” says Chidube Nnene-Anochie, GM Safety and Environment of SPDC.

Composed of international and national scientific experts, the Panel worked from 2012 to 2016. During this period, IUCN acknowledges that it also learned many lessons as a result of facilitating this unprecedented project in an area often surrounded by environmental and political challenges. As a result, IUCN improved its risk capacity and procedures for managing independent scientific panels, as well as strengthened its expertise and relations with regional Members.       

“The IUCN Niger Delta Panel experience contributes to a proof of concept for the organisation,” says Stephen Edwards, who managed the Panel for IUCN. “Independent scientific panels can help business and governments identify new approaches that can benefit people and nature.”

Note to editors:  The report was unveiled at a CBD side event, “Mainstreaming biodiversity in the oil and gas sector: good practices for biodiversity management.”

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