IUCN has recently established an Independent Advisory Panel that will provide scientific recommendations to the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), to help restore the biodiversity of its oil spill sites in the Niger Delta.
The panel will gather leading international and local experts that will collect ecological information related to the sites that have been affected by oil spills. It will then make recommendations on how to improve existing company standards to recover these sites. It will also encourage the involvement of local communities and civil society groups in its activities.
“This is an important move that will hopefully help ease the suffering of people in the Niger Delta,” says Prof Emmanuel Obot, chair of the Panel and chair of IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy’s Theme on the Social and Environmental Accountability of the Private Sector.
In addition to developing science-based standards, guidelines and best practices for restoring the sites, the panel will put together long-term indicators to assess SPDC’s implementation of these recommendations. It will also seek to have other oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta adopt the standards, and it will work on providing mechanisms to protect the remaining areas that are rich in biodiversity from the effects of potential future spills.
“Oil spills from a wide range of sources are having serious impacts on both nature and people of the Niger Delta,” says Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN Director-General. “By seeking independent scientific and technical advice on the rehabilitation of such sites, SPDC is making an essential step towards helping to relieve the pressures on the region’s biodiversity and livelihoods.”
The panel, to be in place for a period of three years, is holding its inaugural meeting at the IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland from 11 to 13 April.
SPDC is a Shell-operated joint venture company involved in oil and gas production in the Niger Delta on behalf of its partners: the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Shell, Elf Petroleum Nigeria Ltd and Agip.