How Can the Oil and Gas Industry Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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While governments have the primary responsibility to prioritize and implement approaches to meeting the SDGs, the private sector and civil society will play critical roles in the implementation of national plans.

A new report titled, 'Mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas', explores the links between the oil and gas industry and the SDGs.

The Atlas aims to encourage oil and gas companies to further incorporate relevant SDGs into their business and operations and spark new ideas.

One of the most exciting things about the 2030 Agenda is that it creates an excellent opportunity for the private sector to demonstrate the crucial role it can play in sustainable development. The SDGs will be central to how the oil and gas industry communicates and frames its contribution to sustainable development going forward.

IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have developed a new report, ‘Mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas‘, to explore the links between the oil and gas industry and the SDGs. It seeks to facilitate dialogue and a shared understanding of how the industry can most effectively support the achievement of the SDGs. I was delighted to launch the Atlas, together with our partners, at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) a few weeks’ ago.

By mapping the linkages between the oil and gas industry and the SDGs, the aim of this Atlas is to encourage oil and gas companies to further incorporate relevant SDGs into their business and operations, validate their current efforts and spark new ideas. There is a good business case for taking action on the SDGs, which represent an important opportunity for companies, as aligning with the sustainable development agenda can lead to greater efficiencies, cost savings and competitiveness, and enhance social licence to operate.

The oil and gas industry is vital to the global economy and many national economies, including in developing and emerging countries. This means the industry is also central to sustainable development, as oil and gas are key pillars of the global energy system and, as such, are drivers of economic and social development.

If we are to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, then partnering can lead to higher-quality, longer-term sustainable outcomes than any stakeholder could achieve on its own.

The global challenge is to ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy while moving towards a low-emissions future. Even with a transformation of the energy system, the oil and gas industry will play a significant role and will be a key contributor to achieving the SDGs.

The SDGs are designed to work in the spirit of partnership and pragmatism. In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, achieving the SDGs by 2030 will require cooperation and collaboration among governments, non-governmental organizations, development partners, the private sector and communities. While governments have the primary responsibility to prioritize and implement approaches to meeting the SDGs, the private sector and civil society will play critical roles in the implementation of national plans. If we are to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, then partnering can lead to higher-quality, longer-term sustainable outcomes than any stakeholder could achieve on its own.

That’s why I was pleased to join the Rapid Fire Round at the SDG Business Forum to talk about Goal 17 – “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” – a standing item discussed at the HLPF each year and one that is of particular importance for IPIECA. Since 1974, we have been building partnerships to improve the oil and gas industry’s performance, including with inter-governmental organizations, academia and NGOs. We highlighted our collaboration with UN Environment through the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles on lead removal from gasoline worldwide. Currently, only three countries remain that use leaded gasoline, a significant drop from 82 countries when this effort first started in 2002. Indeed, this is just one example, but one that demonstrates the benefit oil and gas companies can gain from collaborating with stakeholders to broaden their impact and enhance their ability to leverage additional resources to achieve the SDGs. It was also encouraging to see that private sector interest in the Goals has increased exponentially compared with the first SDG Biz Forum last year.

For IPIECA, and for industry by and large, the sustainable development agenda issues are not new. In fact, we have been working on these issues for a number of years and are already taking a range of actions to support these goals e.g. reducing greenhouse gas emissions in operations and helping consumers reduce emissions, investing in local development, protecting health and safety of workers and communities, and managing environmental risks. However, there are far more opportunities, with careful planning and implementation, for the industry to contribute across all SDGs, either by enhancing its positive contributions or mitigating negative impacts.

UNDP, IFC and IPIECA hope that the Atlas will inspire action that leverages the transformative power of collaboration and partnership. Together, we will continue to seek ways for the oil and gas industry to effectively support the achievement of the SDGs. Throughout this journey, dialogue and engagement with stakeholders at the national, regional and international level will be essential. It is our hope that the Atlas will support the momentum we see in countries around the globe. Our members stand ready to work with all stakeholders to facilitate and support action that will enable us to help achieve the SDGs.

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