By Casper Sonesson, Policy Advisor, Extractive Industries, UNDP
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and IPIECA (the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues) have released for public comment a draft report: Mapping the Oil and Gas Industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all UN member states in 2015, aim to address some of the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental issues. UN member states are expected to use the SDGs to frame their development agendas, and there is a recognition that the private sector – including the oil and gas industry – will play an important role in achieving them.
The oil and gas industry’s operations have positive and negative impacts on a range of areas covered by the SDGs. The industry contributes to sustainable development in a number of ways, including by: generating direct and indirect jobs; supplying access to energy that enables economic activity and social development; contributing substantial tax and other types of revenue to governments; enabling development of advanced technologies and products; and by investing in the long-term social and economic success of the communities in which they operate.
At the same time, the SDGs also highlight sustainability challenges where more can be done to mitigate the adverse impacts of oil and gas development. Among the most pressing challenges are the industry’s environmental footprint on biodiversity and climate change and its associated impacts on communities. Regarding the challenge of climate change for the industry, the report notes that in order to achieve SDG 13 and the Paris climate agreement, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use will need to be reduced dramatically, including by increasing energy efficiency within oil and gas operations and more broadly, developing carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) at large scale and by investing in renewable energy and other energy sources. The enormity of the global challenge of drastically increasing energy access to ensure economic and social development while moving to net-zero emissions is recognized.
The Atlas explores these links between the oil and gas industry and the SDGs, with the aim to facilitate a shared understanding of how the industry can most effectively support the achievement of the SDGs. It maps the industry’s existing contributions and presents practical recommendations and examples of how the industry can integrate the 17 SDGs into its core business activities and corporate systems. The Atlas also demonstrates how the industry can strengthen collaboration with other stakeholders to enhance its contributions, including with governments, communities, civil society, academia and development organizations. More than 70 case studies provide concrete illustrations of good practices across all SDGs.
A draft version of the Atlas has been made available to get inputs and suggestions from a wider range of stakeholders with expertise in sustainable development and the oil and gas industry. The public comment period is open until March 31, 2017. Comments should be submitted online via this webpage, where the full Atlas also can be downloaded.
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