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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
15 maart 2008

Royal Dutch Shell is to join forces with Wetlands International

“With our knowledge about wetlands Shell and its affiliates will enhance the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands”, says Alex Kaat of Wetlands International. On the other hand, the partnership will strengthen the capacity of Wetlands International through building in-house business skills and sharing knowledge in the communication, human resources and finance disciplines. Kaat gives two examples what this could mean: “Shell can show us how we can move towards a carbon neutral organisation, as it has developed an interesting methodology and skills in this respect. And as an international organisation with national branches, Shell can also teach us how to cope with a multiplicity of different legal systems and national interests.”

The partnership recognises the disproportionately high global significance of wetland ecosystems in terms of biodiversity, water provision, people’s livelihoods and climate change. Wetlands such as deltas, shallow marine systems, inter-tidal marshes, rivers and peat lands are also particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the energy industry policies and practices. Shell will seek to develop new strategies, policies and tools to protect wetlands biodiversity and people, and to fulfil its sustainable development objectives. Kaat: “It is Shell’s intention to become the leading oil company in terms of sustainable development and to really improve its skills and practices.”

The activities under the partnership will promote the wise use of wetlands in river basins and along the routes of migratory birds; develop and demonstrate innovative mechanisms to address environmental poverty in wetlands and address climate change mitigation and adaptation. Kaat: “We can’t be more specific at this time, as we are still drawing up a basic programme. Key issues we consider include bio fuels and oil exploitation in the Arctic and off shore.”

It took four years for the partnership to come to fruition. “Both Shell and Wetlands International are aware of the risks in developing such a partnership between organisations with such different objectives,” says Kaat. “Some people have asked us whether we have sold our soul to the devil. However, this partnership is carefully designed to bring together and develop our respective skills and understanding, while remaining independent organisations. We will actively explore conflicts and opportunities that arise between environment and development. The partnership will have to prove itself.”

P+ webtip: Wetlands