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World Health Day 2021: Supporting a fairer, healthier world for everyone

IPIECA Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Manager, Elizabeth Edwards, discusses how IPIECA is supporting a fairer, healthier world for everyone on World Health Day.


Today marks the celebration of World Health Day. It brings to our attention a key theme for 2021: Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone. Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing narrative to ‘build back better’ today is an opportunity to reflect on this theme and consider the important role for the oil, gas and energy industry in improving the health of our workforces and communities, and particularly for those from vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Underpinning this year’s theme is the fundamental right for all individuals to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health. However, as the World Health Organisation notes, inequities still exist within our global society: ‘The places where we live, work and play may make it harder for some to reach their full health potential, while others thrive.’

Given the industry’s wealth of experience in protecting the health, safety and well-being of its workforce, and collaborating with local communities, the industry can play a positive role addressing these health inequalities by promoting good health practices and services amongst their workforces, supply chains and communities.

Pathways to a fairer and healthier world

As a global industry association, working to advance the industry’s environmental and social performance and contribution to the energy transition in the context of sustainable development, IPIECA is well positioned to convene the collective expertise of our members to contribute to a fairer, healthier world for everyone.

We continue to share and develop good practice on human rights, and demonstrate strong support for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. By engaging actively in this space through guidance materials and peer learning, we help members to identify, prevent and mitigate labour rights risks and ensure safe and healthy working conditions and accommodation.

We will also soon be launching an SDG Roadmap for the oil and gas sector, which includes industry specific actions around SDG3: Good health and well-being.

In collaboration with IOGP we encourage the adoption of new approaches to enhance the health outcomes of oil and gas industry employees and the communities in which they operate. We play a leadership role to bring health to the forefront of everyday operations, provide a forum for good practices and concerns, and encourage enhanced performance across occupational, environmental and public health. We are also convening our extensive network of subject-matter experts to promote worker welfare throughout the industry’s operations and supply chain.

Covid-19: Enabling an industry response to the pandemic

I could not write a piece about World Health Day, without acknowledging the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collaborative activities of our members over its course.

COVID-19 is having significant, complex and lasting impacts on many of the communities where IPIECA members work and live. IPIECA has convened the global oil and gas industry to enable a collaborative industry response to ensure the health and safety of workforces, support host communities and ensure energy security for society. IPIECA members have shared ideas on how to connect, collaborate and take action to slow the spread of the virus, with an eye to understanding the human rights impacts and supporting those most vulnerable within our supply chains and communities.

Through IPIECA and IOGP’s Health Committee, good practices were shared amongst members to enable the industry to respond to the rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic. Topics discussed have included travel, screening, how and when to evacuate infected people, working in remote and offshore locations, social distancing, mental health, and the promotion of equitable vaccine distribution. In addition, position papers on COVID-19 testing, vaccination usage and returning to the workplace have been produced, which continue to be updated on a regular basis.

Lastly, I am pleased to announce that today we have launched guidance for the industry on pandemic management. This document is a culmination of the good practices, information and strategies developed by IPIECA and IOGP members to respond to the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to provide guidance on pandemic response management for the oil and gas industry. By providing effective risk mitigating measures to reduce the risk of international and local transmission of infectious disease, the industry’s workforce can be protected, and companies can actively contribute to the priorities of society.

Building back better

Through the good practices that we have developed in response to COVID-19, and the collaborative efforts of our members on worker welfare, health and human rights, I am confident that we can continue to promote sustainable livelihoods, safe and healthy living and working conditions, and ensure respect for people’s rights in the industry’s workforce, communities, and supply chain.


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