Ipieca at 50: staying true to our founding values to guide the energy industry

image is IPIECA Brian Sullivan

2024 marks the 50th anniversary of Ipieca. We formed back in 1974 at the request of the United Nations Environment Programme to act as the liaison channel between the UN and the oil and gas industry. Over the last 5 decades we’ve brought together our members with a range of UN bodies to share knowledge and develop good practice guidance across the areas of climate, nature, people and sustainability.

Milestones like this one provide an opportunity to reflect on the past, look ahead to the future and consider the way forward.

As I look back on 50 years of Ipieca, one of the things that strikes me is how even though we’ve grown significantly in size and expanded the scope of topics we work on, we’ve stayed true to our founding values.

Supporting UN conventions

Ipieca’s core role is the same today as it was in 1974: to raise awareness and support for UN conventions and provide the good practice guidance and tools to help industry contribute to achieving them.

50 years later, we’ve produced over 300 publicly available good practice guidance to support the whole industry advance its climate action, environmental responsibility, social performance and mainstream sustainability.

In 2021, we launched the Ipieca Principles, which make support of the Paris Agreement, the UN Convention for Biological Diversity, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the UN SDGs a condition of membership, as well as committing members to operational good practice aligned with these conventions.

Non-lobby, sustainable focus from day one

Ipieca’s non-lobby approach has been key to Ipieca’s success over the years. From the start our focus was on providing technical knowledge, good practice and solutions to encourage continuous improvement in industry performance.

The power of partnerships

Without a doubt collaboration is part of Ipieca’s DNA. We were established to convene industry and bring it together with UN bodies. In no small part due to our non-lobby status and technical focus, we’ve brought together our member companies – who now represent ~50% of global oil and gas production and an increasing amount of renewables capacity – with more and more UN bodies, as well as lots of NGOs, business associations and academic organisations.

Many of the key publications and breakthroughs in our history, have been the result of these partnerships. Our work on oil spill preparedness with the International Maritime Organisation, the phase out of leaded gasoline with the UN Environment Programme, the publications on the Sustainable Development Goals with the UN Development Programme, the International Finance Corporation and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the guidance on human rights due diligence with the Danish Institute for Human Rights are all examples where the collaboration has resulted in stronger positive outcomes and real progress on the ground.

Without a doubt, Ipieca’s achievements over the last 50 years are a testament to the power of partnerships.

What’s next for Ipieca?

Ipieca will continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of our members as their portfolios respond to the challenges of the energy transition. The complexity of the transition means that all parties and all solutions have a contribution to make. The formation of Ipieca all those years ago recognised that there are some issues that are too large and complex for individual companies, sectors or countries to address successfully on their own. As the need for collaboration is greater than ever, Ipieca has an important future ahead of us.


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