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Sustainability Is the New Safety

Editor’s Note: The oil and gas industry is under public scrutiny like never before on a host of health, safety, and environmental issues. These concerns are already affecting how companies operate and interact with the public. This series is intended to shed light on how the industry is actively confronting these challenges or how it should address them going forward.

 

I recently completed my season as SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the topic of managing nontechnical risks, or, in other words, managing business delivery in alignment with the broader interests of the societies in which we operate. It was a distinct privilege that took me to 18 countries and 30 engagements with oil and gas professionals around the world.

Among my many takeaways, three stand out:

  1. Everywhere, independent of geography, culture, or political situation, the oil and gas industry is facing ever more regulatory scrutiny, higher expectations for responsible business conduct, and an increasingly vocal population. Many in my audiences saw this as a bigger challenge than technical and commercial ones.
  2. There is no universal and proven approach to effective management of societal expectations and relationships. Companies large and small are experimenting their way forward, with as many successes as failures. Nobody can guarantee success up front.
  3. There is no common terminology. Sustainability, sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, social license, societal or nontechnical risk management are all used in this universe and, by and large, have the same goal, i.e., developing and maintaining long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with societies in which we operate thanks to responsible social and environmental performance. I am not too worried what it is called as long as it yields the desired results. In this article I will be using both the terms “sustainability” and “societal relationships.”
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Sustainability Is the New Safety

Christiaan Luca, Partner, Community Wisdom Partners

01 January 2020

Volume: 72 | Issue: 1

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