Sensitive areas and oceans
We seek to understand and respond to any potential impacts our activities may have on biodiversity or ecosystem services. This covers the benefits, such as food and clean water, which people or businesses derive from ecosystems.
We develop biodiversity action plans when operating in areas that are rich in biodiversity, areas also known as critical habitats. These assess and mitigate the impact of our plans on local biodiversity and dependent communities. We partner with major conservation organisations to understand how to protect these critical habitats and the benefits that people derive from them.
Increased industrial activity in seas and oceans around the world is leading to environmental concerns. Marine spatial planning - a process which identifies natural resources and habitats in an area and plans how best to use them - is increasingly being used to improve decision-making where competing human activities occur. This includes managing the effects on the marine environment of fisheries, shipping and oil and gas exploration.
For example, Shell is supporting an initiative in Gabon where the government and the Wildlife Conservation Society are working to create Gabon Bleu. This will create protected marine areas, zones for traditional fishing methods, and sites where oil and gas activity and conservation coexist. Shell is providing data, information and expertise.
We are also working with scientists to explore the depths of the ocean. Our Stones deep-water project in the Gulf of Mexico, USA, for example, will share the data we collect from sensors with marine scientists. Shell is also a member of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Joint Industry Programme on Sound and Marine Life. This supports research to help understand and mitigate the effects of sounds on marine life generated by oil and gas exploration and production activity. The research helps the industry reduce its impact on the environment by, for instance, developing software to detect marine mammals near seismic operations.
Natural capital is the value of nature to people, society, businesses, and the economy. The concept of natural capital - and measuring, valuing and accounting for it - is evolving and a topic of interest to many, including governments, non-governmental organisations, financial institutions and businesses.
Shell is involved in several initiatives to learn more about natural capital, including its measurement and valuation, and to better understand its potential applications. Natural capital assessments can provide extra insights into Shell’s impact and dependency on the environment to help us manage this in a sustainable way and inform our business decisions.
In June 2015, we joined the Natural Capital Coalition, that brings together a broad range of global stakeholders, including organisations from business and finance, government, academia and civil society. As a member of the technical group developing the Natural Capital Protocol, a framework designed to help companies include natural capital in their decision-making, we have offered insights into how the Protocol could help businesses. Shell, with the support of our environmental partner IUCN, is one of the companies piloting the Natural Capital Protocol. We are part of a working group within IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, looking at water valuation, and exploring its application for the oil and gas sector.