Shell Commits not to Operate in Natural World Heritage Sites

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies (Shell) today undertook not to explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources within any natural World Heritage Sites. Shell is the first energy group publicly to make this commitment.

Shell recognizes natural World Heritage Sites are places of outstanding universal value. The commitment not to explore for or develop hydrocarbon resources within natural World Heritage Sites is one of four new commitments that enhance the Group Biodiversity Standard, first published in 2001. The Standard covers all of Shell's businesses and builds on the Group's existing work with the conservation community, and in particular a partnership with IUCN – The World Conservation Union.

Speaking at the headquarters of IUCN near Geneva in Switzerland, Chairman of Shell’s Committee of Managing Directors, Sir Philip Watts said: "Setting the Group Biodiversity Standard, in 2001, was a very important step for our business because it demonstrated a recognition that real change, real acceptance of a new way of doing business, only comes when it is integrated into the heart of the business and recognized as a factor in the success of the business. We now feel it is time to take that approach one step further and I am pleased to announce today that Shell is making a commitment not to explore for, or develop oil and gas resources within natural World Heritage Sites."

Shell's second commitment is to implement a suite of more stringent operating practices to address biodiversity issues when it is operating in an area of high biodiversity value. The Group has begun by developing an Early Warning System for engaging key stakeholders and by integrating biodiversity into its impact assessment process. New practices will be implemented, which include working with stakeholders in regional land-use planning exercises; assessing the secondary impacts of proposed projects (such as potentially increased access and in-migration); implementing Biodiversity Action Plans; and commissioning appropriate baseline and monitoring studies.

The third commitment is to report publicly on its activities in IUCN Category I-IV protected areas.

Shell has also invested in making a positive contribution towards biodiversity by working together in partnerships with leading conservation organizations. Shell was one of four energy companies and five leading conservation organizations to participate in the Energy and Biodiversity Initiative (EBI). The EBI has enabled the private sector to work with non-governmental organizations to integrate biodiversity considerations into the work of the oil and gas industry. Shell has worked with IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and will be an active contributor at the World Parks Congress in Durban in September 2003.

Other partnerships include work with the Smithsonian Institution in Gabon with the support of the Shell Foundation; with Fauna and Flora International in Flower Valley in South Africa and in the Caspian; with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in the Gulf of Mexico; and with ProNatura and Living Earth in Nigeria.

Shell's fourth commitment is to continue to work with IUCN and other conservation partners to develop and pilot ways to strengthen the management of protected areas. This is expected to include working to develop sustainable livelihoods for local people in protected areas, and exploring options for sustainable financing of protected areas.