IUCN engagement on the RWE Hambach Mine has triggered broader company-wide action on biodiversity. The engagement came to end at the end of March 2015, culminating in the publishing of a report on the Risks and opportunities in biodiversity management and related stakeholder involvement of the RWE Hambach Lignite Mine.

The report is available in both English and German.

The scope of the report

The mining report is not intended as a review and/or systematic appraisal of the biodiversity management of the Hambach Mine. Rather, it forms part of a joint undertaking by IUCN and RWE to provide a basis for the development of a company-wide strategic approach on the management of biodiversity and related stakeholder needs.  Furthermore, it should be noted that the report is restricted to the issues of biodiversity risks posed by lignite mining and the opportunities of well-planned and implemented rehabilitation strategies. It does not seek to contribute to the fundamental debate about Germany’s energy policies or the long-term impacts of lignite mining on society and the environment in general.

Objective of the engagement

RWE and IUCN establish a working relationship to internalise biodiversity values into RWE policies and practices.

The Programme aimed at delivering the following results:

  • The restoration plan for the Rhinish lignite mining area demonstrates best practices in terms of incorporating biodiversity and ecosystem considerations.
  • The application of IUCN biodiversity management tools is tested and adapted to the restoration of lignite open cast mines, including a check-list for rehabilitation that takes into account a landscape approach.
  • Based on IUCN recommendations, RWE develops a process for strengthening its biodiversity management policies and practices for the RWE Group.

Results – at the level of the RWE Hambach Mine

On the one hand, the report identifies the strengths of the RWE biodiversity management at the Hambach mine, including excellent biodiversity outcomes in habitat restoration, cultivation and species management and highly professional and dedicated RWE employees. On the other hand, the report identifies weaknesses in RWE processes, for example a lack of a discernible strategic approach and formulated overall guiding biodiversity vision for the company, including the Hambach mine. 

In total, 38 concrete recommendations are put forward by the authors of the report. In general, the recommendations relate to:

  • the urgent requirement for a more strategic approach on biodiversity management;
  • the monitoring of biodiversity and development of possible indices for biodiversity losses and gains;
  • the formalized risk and opportunity assessment of biodiversity; and
  • a more pro-active approach to stakeholder engagement.

The report has already triggered action more widely in RWE. At the Hambach site, a separate management response to the report has been developed and is now available in English and German.

Results – at the RWE corporate level

At the RWE corporate level, IUCN facilitated two internal workshops in RWE, bringing together for the first time biodiversity experts and champions in the organisation to work together to develop a biodiversity policy to be presented to the RWE board later in 2015. The biodiversity group of RWE already met independently in April 2015.

For the purpose of the first workshop, a framing document was produced and a summary briefing for business developed called, A strategic approach on biodiversity: the what, why and how. This publication is, however, relevant for other companies too.

Next steps

This engagement has now ended and will not be followed up, in part due to requests from a sub-set of the IUCN German membership for it to end. However, RWE says it will continue to embed a more strategic approach to biodiversity in its organisation.