WWF: oil, gas and mining exploration threaten one third of natural World Heritage Sites

L’associazione ambientalista lancia un appello agli investitori affinché non finanzino più le attività estrattive pericolose per l’ambiente.

Almost one third of the UNESCO’s natural World Heritage Sites are under threat of man-related activities, mostly linked to oil, gas, and mining exploration. The alarming data emerge from a report carried out by WWF, in collaboration with Aviva Investors and Investec Asset Management: 31% of natural World Heritage Sites are threatened, and the risk rises to 61% in the African continent.

According to the environmental organisation, such areas cover less than 1 per cent of the planet’s surface, but they are home to an inestimable natural heritage in terms of landscapes and biodiversity. Among them, the report mentions the Grand Canyon, United States, the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. There, companies carrying out mining activities represent a daily threat. For this reason, WWF called on investors, in order to make them consider both financial and reputation risks linked to such business.


“We are going to the ends of the Earth in pursuit of more resources – resources, including minerals, oil and gas, that are becoming more difficult and more expensive to extract,” said WWF-UK’s Chief Executive David Nussbaum. “Some of the world’s most treasured places are threatened by destructive industrial activities that imperil the very values for which they have been granted the highest level of international recognition: outstanding natural value. Protecting these iconic places is not only important in terms of their environmental worth; it is crucial for the livelihoods and future of the people who depend on them. Working with industry leaders such as Aviva and Investec will help us to get this message out to the wider finance industry. Investors have a unique opportunity, and indeed responsibility, to be stewards of capital and shape our future”. Also considering that 93 per cent of natural World Heritage Sites deliver recreation and tourism benefit, and 91 per cent provide employment.


Oil sands, Alberta, Canada


“Experts tell us that two thirds of all proven fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world is serious about avoiding dangerous climate change,” said Pierre Cannet, Head of Climate, Energy and Infrastructures Programme at WWF France. “For this reason, some companies’ choice of carrying out their activities in World Heritage Sites represents an absurdity, from an environmental, economic, and social point of view. In this context, investors play a crucial role, given that through their choices they could directly encourage companies not to operate in such places”.

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