Custodians of the Environment: The story of a successful partnership
World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on June 5 every year to raise global awareness of the need to take positive environmental action and the importance of preserving our biodiversity. World Environment Day, also popularly known as Environment Day, is a means to tackle environmental challenges that include climate change, global warming, disasters and conflicts, harmful substances, environmental governance, ecosystem management and resource efficiency.
Since 1972 when WED was inaugurated by the United nations General Assembly in Stockholm, Sweden, different themes have been chosen to mark each year and create awareness on critical issues on biodiversity. This year’s theme – Think, Eat, Save has been chosen to raise global awareness on depleting natural resources for food and energy in spite of the world population which is growing geometrically. The 2013 theme is apt as it builds on the global campaign of the same title launched earlier this year by UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners, to reduce food waste and loss. It strongly emphasizes the importance of protecting our planet and promotes an understanding that each individuals as well as organizations can play significant and effective roles in tackling environmental issues.
Globally, the issue of environmental conservation is topical. It affects the social and economic lives of peoples and nations and also forms a major focus area in public discourses. Among others, the issues of deforestation, spills, water and air pollution, global warming have been of serious concern to stakeholders including the Government, nongovernmental organizations, communities and corporate organizations.
As it is worldwide, so it is in Nigeria. The growing concern for the environment has remained a major challenge to the country. Moreover, the level of consciousness about the environment has increased over the years as stakeholders are increasingly recognizing the importance of according the issues of the environment and sustainability their rightful place in national development.
At the forefront of the environmental conservation effort in Nigeria is the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), a non-governmental organization which was established in 1980 and formally registered as a charitable trust (No. 1917) in 1982.
For over two decades, NCF has collaborated with Chevron Nigeria Limited and other partners to promote nature conservation and environmental protection. Today, the organization is the nation’s leader and the institutional symbol for the promotion of nature conservation and environmental protection. It has through her conservation projects maintained a nature conservation standard with unrivalled competence. Her ability to localize global conservation efforts with adequate attention to local peculiarities is evident in the needs of inhabitants that are being met on a daily basis in its multiple project sites across the country.
Founded by Late Chief S.L Edu, the Patron of the NCF is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Other governing structures are the Trusteeship Council, the National Executive Council, Council committees, and the Secretariat.
NCF track records cut across conservation education, biodiversity surveys and species identification, policy advocacy, habitat
identification and protection, research, internship for college graduates, media sensitization and fundraising, advocacy for rare species conservation, fight against environmental pollution and poverty reduction.
NCF partners with organizations in and outside Nigeria. Among its international partners are World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Birdlife International, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Fauna and Flora International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Locally, it forges strong partnerships with other environmental NGOs, government institutions, the business community, the academia, students, and rural-urban communities with the aim of building and sustaining a more lasting union to safeguard the environment.
NCF’s partnerships with the business community have provided much needed funds for sustainability in environmental management and conservation. Its thinking is that companies should include concerns about environmental impact in their corporate strategy. This is not a new view in that most social analysts now insist that businesses could no longer be driven purely by profits without considering the environment and society around them.
Perhaps the most significant and sustainable partnership for NCF has been the one with Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL). CNL has continued to demonstrate high commitment to the environment. The company claimed on its website that as part of its Chevron Way™, protecting the earth’s natural resources is as important to it as providing the energy sources so essential to improving people’s quality of life.
As a global company, Chevron conducts business anywhere in the world with sound environmental management that supports sustainable development objective. In line with this, the company has in place a company-wide health, environment and safety guideline to ensure that its performance is world-class. In Nigeria, CNL’s Operational Excellence obliges it to deliver industry-leading performance in process safety, personal safety and health, environment, reliability and efficiency to achieve world-class performance.
Nature Conservation and Education
CNL’s commitment to preserving the environment has left enduring landmarks in the landscape, including the Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) -a centre of excellence in environmental research and education reserved as a sanctuary for the rich flora and fauna of the Lekki Peninsula. This 78-hectare facility is the only one of such facilities in the Lagos area and was established by CNL in partnership with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF). This nature reserve traverses a mosaic of vegetation types, namely: secondary forest, swamp forest and Savannah grassland. One notably impact of conserving the Lekki Conservation Centre land area over the years is the significant growth of the secondary forest since the Centre was acquired.
According to Emmannuel Obot, late Executive Director of NCF, no fewer than 1 million students have visited the LCC in the last 20 years. The Centre has played significant roles in climate change mitigation and contributed to global biodiversity conservation efforts. It has also pioneered successful natural resources management in the Lekki area of Lagos. “The challenge remains daunting but we cannot afford to give up. The successes of the past are encouraging but not enough to make us complacent. This is the message we have preached in this Centre for twenty years, and we thank Chevron Nigeria Limited for believing in the Centre’s capacity to spread the message”, Obot said at a press briefing during the 20th anniversary of the LCC.
In 2005, CNL established a yearly postgraduate research scholarship for PhD students in environment and conservation. In addition, CNL hosts the annual S. L. Edu Memorial Lecture to promote environmental management awareness. The company is also working with the NCF to establish the Niger Delta Conservation Centre.
(Let’s get a quite from the current Acting Director if at all possible)
In commemoration of the World Environment Day, Mr. Andrew Fawthrop, Chairman/Managing Director, Chevron Nigeria Limited reiterated the company’s commitment to the responsible treatment of the environment as a condition for doing business anywhere adding that the long term partnership between the company and the NCF is a clear demonstration of that commitment.
“We have a record of responsible environmental stewardship everywhere we operate and have also established enduring partnerships with governments, non–governmental organizations, business organizations and communities. These partnerships and efforts have been recognized and rewarded within and outside the country,” he said.
Beyond the support for NCF, CNL engages in other activities to ensure that it remains a good steward of the environment.
Assessment of Environmental, Social and Health Impacts
CNL has developed and is implementing processes to identify, assesses, mitigate and manage potentially significant risk and impacts to human health and the environment (including natural resources) associated with existing operations and capital projects, including emissions, releases and wastes. The company effectively engages its stakeholders ensuring that its projects and proposals are acceptable to all.
In response to global initiatives against climate change, CNL has developed and is implementing strategy toward eliminating flared gas. The strategy, including the three-phased Escravos Gas Project (EGP), the Escravos Gas-to-Liquids project (EGTL) and the West African Gas Pipeline project (WAGP), are all aimed at ending routine gas flaring in its operations, while delivering other important values for Nigeria, NNPC, and for CNL. The Agbami project was also developed with zero flare.
Towards Spill-Free Operations
CNL has upgraded all its production facilities to ensure that they maintain their high level of safety and efficiency. This platform upgrade project modernized the older installations to bring them to the highest international safety standards. The gains from the upgrade include cleaner effluent discharge from the production platforms, with performance consistently surpassing the statutory limits.
The company is rigorously implementing process safety management standards, in addition to its existing Operational Excellence processes, to ensure that our operating facilities are always safe, and the new ones are built with high safety consideration that assures zero-possibility for operational spill release.
CNL is a member of the Clean Nigeria Association and the Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) of the United Kingdom, two co-operatives through which members pool resources to combat spills that cannot be handled by the individual companies. CNL continues to hold a leadership position in the association.
Old Land Drill Sites
CNL took inventory of its old land drill sites that are not in use and embarked on priority restoration work to return the sites to their initial states and give the restored sites to their original owners.
Putting Back: Restoring the Mangrove
CNL has developed, and applied expertise in Mangrove restoration through a combination of modern afforestation techniques, including natural recovery and direct planting of mangroves. Chevron commenced the regeneration of the mangrove vegetation with a pilot scheme involving the planting of mangrove seedlings of different species at three selected sites along the Abiteye-Escravos right-of-way. Expertise in mangrove restoration was also transferred to Nigerian Consultants.
The Federal Government, in 1999, acknowledged these efforts when the then Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) presented the company with its Environmental Achievement Award. It was the first of such awards in the industry.
Similarly in 2001, the company has also received the Star Merit Award on Environment of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) in recognition of its contributions to the sustenance of the Nigerian ecology and support for Society’s activities.
In addition, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation has honoured the company with two awards for Sustained Support for Environmental Excellence and Conservation Leadership Award in 2002 and 2010 respectively.
In 2006, the Delta state government honored CNL with the Best Oil Company in Oil Spill Management Practices award while the Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria gave CNL a Corporate Good Environment Health Practice Award for the company’s “commitment to responsible environmental stewardship” in Nigeria.
Beyond the awards, however, is the company’s commitment to remain an industry leader in protecting people and the environment. In the words of Deji Haastrup, Chevron’s General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, “ Environmental conservation is a matter of common sense and at Chevron we are always willing to collaborate with stakeholders who are committed to safeguarding the environment”