EO Offers Advice on “Challenges of Hydrocarbon Development in the Amazon” at Government Meeting in Colombia

EO Project Manager Sebastian Perez (standing) presenting the benefits of the Equitable Origin system and the EO100 Standard.

On October 23rd and 24th Colombia’s National Agency for Hydrocarbons (ANH – Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos) co-hosted an event on the social and environmental challenges of hydrocarbon development in the Amazon. The event was part of the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA) and was co-organized by Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, National Natural Parks of Colombia, the US Department of the Interior, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and was held at the ANH offices in Bogotá.

The two-day meeting served as a regional forum for businesses, government and civil society involved in the energy sector to discuss the implementation of social and environmental best practices in hydrocarbon projects in the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon. An important opportunity to exchange and analyze experiences in environmental planning and mitigation, participants examined ways to strengthen public policy instruments and improve regulatory frameworks to address the particular challenges of development in the environmentally sensitive Andean Amazon. Presenters and attendees shared success stories on progress that has been made in implementing best practices in oil and gas development to avoid the negative impacts of oil and gas development on biodiversity, ecosystems and the culture of the Amazon’s people. Participants included Pablo Viera, Vice-Minster of Environmental and Sustainable Development, Carlos Mantilla, Vice-President of Contracts for the National Hydrocarbon Agency, and Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, among others.

EO co-founder Manuel Pallares and EO’s Sebastián Pérez presented on the Equitable Origin system and the value that it offers national oil and gas regulatory agencies such as the ANH in promoting better social and environmental standards in hydrocarbon development projects. They explained how the Equitable Origin system and the EO100 Standard provide a toolkit and a framework for businesses and government to improve transparency and accountability of oil and gas operations, protect human rights, preserve biodiversity, and promote local and sustainable development. Collaboration and engagement with national governments is a key component of effective certification standards – the Equitable Origin system and the EO100 Standard save regulatory agencies time and resources by integrating internationally recognized standards into performance target benchmarks that align with and sometimes exceed standards in existing regulatory legislation.

Though only a few industry representatives attended, many of the organizations and public agencies directly working in the Amazon region showed strong interest in the Equitable Origin model and were very willing to be part of the EO100 revision process and contribute to the online Consultation Tool. Equitable Origin is also moving forward with plans for a working group on preservation in the Amazon in conjunction with the ANH.