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2021: A big year for biodiversity

With the postponed COP Convention for Biological Diversity Conference of Parties 15 taking place and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration starting this year, 2021 will be a big year for biodiversity. IPIECA-IOGP Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Working Group Officers Mark Johnston (bp), David Palandro (ExxonMobil) and Steven Dickinson (Total) explain how its members are supporting global conservation goals.

Saturday 22 May was the International Day for Biological Diversity, which aims to increase awareness and understanding of biodiversity issues. The theme for 2021 is ‘We’re part of the solution’, which serves to remind us that biodiversity is the foundation to solving many sustainable development challenges. Likewise, all parts of society including government, business, civil societies and academia, must come together if we are to tackle and ultimately reverse biodiversity loss.  

A big year for biodiversity

2021 is going to be a pivotal year if we are to accelerate biodiversity action with the postponed Convention for Biological Diversity Conference of Parties 15 (CBD COP 15) set to take place in China in October, which aims for nations to adopt a new global biodiversity framework, and addresses mainstreaming biodiversity into economic sectors and society. 2021 also saw the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

The anticipated global biodiversity framework and the long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming biodiversity are likely to include new goals, targets and indicators to build on existing biodiversity strategies, encouraging the private sector to make more ambitious plans and contribute to global conservation goals. The energy transition is high on the CBD agenda and with increasing recognition from governments and financial institutions, commitments to the energy transition by oil and gas companies are likely to be expected in the future. The start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in 2021 further acts as a rallying point for private sector companies to collaborate and contribute to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity above and beyond quantifiable project-level impacts, making positive contribution to global conservation goals.

Convening the industry and stakeholders around biodiversity

IPIECA and IOGP have been jointly working on biodiversity and ecosystem services issues for almost 20 years. We have been working with them as they bring together experts from their member organizations (which include bp, ExxonMobil and Total), wider industry and stakeholders to produce and share practical guidance and tools across the industry to enable it to play a contributing role to global conservation goals through supporting the implementation of new biodiversity policies and setting science-based and proactive biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) management approaches.

Together, IPIECA and IOGP support members and sector companies integrate BES conservation considerations into their business management systems and across the lifecycle of oil and gas operations through providing guidance on taking an environmental risk based approach to managing BES and using the mitigation hierarchy (avoid, minimise, restore, offset) as a framework for good practice management. 

IPIECA and IOGP work across a number of BES-related areas including metrics and reporting, biodiversity action plans, operating in marine environments, biodiversity baseline assessments, implementing the mitigation hierarchy, and industry training and peer learning. Horizon scanning is also a big focus on their work, making sure we are aware of the most pressing issues and able to provide the industry with guidance and support as quickly as possible.

In addition, through collaborations and partnerships with key stakeholders such as the IUCN and UNEP WCMC, IPIECA aims to improve members and wider industry understanding of biodiversity issues.

Placing nature at the heart of our recovery

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief the connection between healthy ecosystems, the planet and its people, it has also diverted attention and resources from important international efforts to address biodiversity loss. We believe that biodiversity can play a transformational role in climate, health and prosperity and that the oil and gas industry can make a major contribution to global conservation goals as we build back better.

Through the IPIECA-IOGP BES working group, we work collectively to halt and reverse continued decline and loss in biodiversity and will continue to engage with the CBD processes, providing technical inputs to the conference while sharing knowledge and good practice with the whole industry to enable the sector to mainstream biodiversity in their management systems and operations.

Find out more about IPIECA and IOGP’s work to support biological diversity and global conservation goals.


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