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Year in review: driving industry action across the sustainability agenda in 2021

The transition from one year to the next is a natural time for reflection. Looking back on the past 12 months, I can say that 2021 has been one of the most significant years for Ipieca that I can remember. Here are some of the Ipieca highlights from 2021.

A new strategy and vision

At the beginning of 2021, after extensive consultation with members and our UN, NGO and academic stakeholders, we launched a new strategy and vision, which excitingly builds on our core expertise of environmental and social performance to place the energy transition and sustainable development at the heart of what we do.

With a membership responsible for producing a significant proportion of the world’s energy, and over 1,000 world leading climate, environmental, social performance and sustainability experts working together through Ipieca, we are uniquely placed to support the industry’s contribution to both the energy transition and sustainable development.

Climate, nature, people and sustainability strategic pillars

To achieve our vision, we developed strategic pillars for climate, nature, people and sustainability. This structure enables us to bring together experts from our member companies to work on these cross-cutting issues, maximising our impact on the topics we work on, such as climate change, biodiversity, oil spill preparedness, human rights and the delivery of the SDGs. I am pleased to say that we have already achieved many of the ambitions set out in our strategic pillars.

Accelerating SDG action: a roadmap for the industry

As we get closer to the 2030 deadline to realise the SDGs, and with the COVID-19 pandemic reversing progress on many of the goals, the need for coordinated, collaborative SDG action is greater than ever.

In April, in partnership with the WBCSD, we launched Accelerating action: an SDG Roadmap for the oil and gas sector. The Roadmap provides over 90 actions across three systemic themes of climate, nature and people to support the delivery of 10 priority SDGs – those goals where the industry can make the most material impacts. By aligning the industry around a shared response to the SDGs, we can scale up its collective response and speed up the delivery of the SDGs.

Ipieca at COP26

Ipieca was at COP26 in Glasgow – as we have been for every other COP event. Ahead of COP26, Ipieca organized and participated in several meetings, workshops and panels to raise awareness of the issues under discussion and how the industry can support these, as well as running events exploring cross-sector opportunities to accelerate pathways to net zero. During COP26 we made use of our UNFCCC observer status to monitor the negotiations, and hold our own event focused on how the oil and gas industry can contribute to a net-zero future.

Throughout 2021, Ipieca worked on a range of guidance and tools to support the industry’s climate performance, and to help stakeholders understand the role of oil and gas in low-emissions pathways, releasing in September our Hydrogen awareness briefing. We also used our convening power to bring together industry representatives with leaders from other sectors in a workshop to explore energy transition and net-zero pathways.

Mainstreaming biodiversity

Nature and climate are interconnected. Ecosystems can act as buffers to the worst extremes of climate change, with ecosystems in turn being affected by climate change. Given its importance, I was pleased to see the first phase of the CBD COP15 on biodiversity garner more attention, and that nature was very much on the agenda at COP26.

Ipieca was very active throughout the COP15 processes and events during 2021. We took part in the pre-COP15 meetings, providing feedback on draft versions of its global framework on biodiversity, helping to make sure that it is a realistic yet ambitious framework that can be implemented by businesses. We observed the first virtual phase of negotiations around the framework in October, as well as participating in two online sessions focused on mainstreaming biodiversity across the energy sector.

We will be present at the concluding phase in China in April 2022, when the global framework on biodiversity will be adopted by all the nations, focused on mainstreaming biodiversity across businesses and sectors. We will be ready to support its implementation from day one, and are already working with members and stakeholders on guidance and workshops to help companies operationalise the framework.

The global end of leaded petrol

July marked the global end of leaded petrol, a momentous achievement which will have massive health, environment and climate benefits, including preventing at least 1 million premature deaths. This landmark moment followed almost two decades of work by the UN Environment Programme-led global Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV), of which Ipieca is a founding member, and which brings together governments, civil society and industry – a real testament to the power of partnerships to solve global challenges.

Placing human rights at the heart of business

In June we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The launch of the UNGPs was a huge step forward in advancing human rights, providing a globally recognised framework for governments and companies to protect and respect human rights.

I am very proud of the fact that Ipieca played a part in the initial consultation on the UNGPs. Since then, we have worked tirelessly to support companies to embed the UNGPs in how they do business, so we were delighted to be invited to take part in the UN Human Rights 10th anniversary activities.

Ahead of the anniversary, Ipieca published the Human rights due diligence guidance. This provides step by step guidance on how to develop human rights due diligence processes and incorporate these into existing frameworks and practices, supporting companies to respect human rights as outlined in the UNGPs.

Looking ahead to 2022

Without a doubt, 2021 was a remarkable year for Ipieca. I am excited about 2022 and the plans we have in place to realise our vision and provide leadership for the global oil and gas industry on a just energy transition and advancing climate action, environmental responsibility, social performance and mainstreaming sustainability. The issues on the sustainability agenda are interconnected and the four pillars of the Ipieca strategy provide a unique opportunity for our industry to collaborate on scaling up actions, including those directed towards opportunities within low-carbon solutions and alternative energy.


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