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International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Rio Tinto London

IUCN’s Collaboration Agreement with Rio Tinto

14 July 2010 | News – News story
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The Collaboration Agreement, signed 12 July, 2010, between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Rio Tinto London Limited (Rio Tinto) commits IUCN and Rio Tinto to focus their collaborative projects on innovative and ground-breaking biodiversity conservation activities and to ensure transparency between and within both Parties.

The key features of the IUCN – Rio Tinto Agreement are:

• Build a business-focused relationship that enables Rio Tinto to improve its environmental management and delivery of conservation outcomes;
• Increase awareness and understanding throughout IUCN of the conservation and business challenges facing the resources sector;
• Strengthen Rio Tinto and IUCN capacities for market-based approaches to environmental management and conservation;
• Jointly contribute to sector-wide improvements in the mining and closely-related sectors; and
• Gain recognition for both organizations as leaders in their respective fields and committed to environmental management and delivering sustainable development outcomes.

• IUCN will project manage and implement the Programme;
• IUCN will administer and coordinate the Programme on a day-to-day basis and, jointly with Rio Tinto, its implementation;
• IUCN’s administration functions and duties include: jointly carry out, with Rio Tinto, all acts necessary for the purposes of the Programme including compliance with all laws and contractual obligations; jointly with Rio Tinto, develop the annual Programme plan and budget; jointly with Rio Tinto, coordinate the development and delivery of the Communications Strategy; maintain accurate details of all monies received relating to the Programme and all Programme Expenses; and jointly with Rio Tinto, prepare comprehensive repots, meeting papers, and any other documents reasonably required by the Relationship Management Committee;
• IUCN will be responsible for the preparation of the annual Accounts for the Programme;
• Rio Tinto will provide the payment of the Financial Contribution for the collaboration Programme; and
• Rio Tinto will provide project contributions including: the provision of assistance to IUCN in the project management of work undertaken pursuant to this Agreement; the provision of all information and documents reasonably required by IUCN for the proper performance of its duties in accordance with this Agreement; the provision of advice and expertise relating to biodiversity and conservation management in the context of the mining industry; jointly develop and deliver the Communications Strategy with IUCN; jointly with IUCN, effect the implementation of the Programme; and take all reasonable action for the performance of the joint functions and duties of this Agreement.

• IUCN, in consultation with Rio Tinto, shall be permitted to utilize local partners and collaborators on any project undertaken pursuant to this Agreement in order to assist IUCN with the performance of its duties thereunder.

• Each Party will appoint a Relationship Manager responsible for the day-to-day management of the Relationship;
• The Parties shall establish a Relationship Management Committee comprised of six (6) members, three (3) for each Party, with each member having one (1) vote on any decisions made;
• The functions and duties of the Relationship Management Committee include: approving the Budget and Programme Plan for each Programme Year; ensure that both Parties contribute their respective Deliverables; ensure that the Objectives and Programme Activities of the collaborative relationship remain consistent with each Party’s organizational and strategic aims; agree on any major changes or additions to the Objectives, Programme Activities, and/or Budget; receive and consider reports and other documents from the Relationship Managers relating to the implementation and management of the Programme Activities, to consider any risks, issues, or new opportunities raised by the Parties, and to provide guidance, direction, and recommendations to the Relationship Managers with respect to the same; agree to undertake activities on behalf of the Relationship as may be required from time to time to ensure the proper and effective functioning of the Relationship, the Programme, and the Objectives; and receive and consider any recommendations arising out of a Review carried out for the Relationship.

• Both Parties may agree upon an independent person to be appointed to review and evaluate the performance of the Relationship and/or the Programme Activities undertaken in accordance with the Programme;
• A review may take place once each Programme year; and
• Recommendations for any variations to the Relationship or the Programme Activities arising out of the Review will be considered at a meeting of the Relationship Management Committee to determine how the recommendations will be pursued.

• The Parties will develop, agree upon, and maintain a joint Communications Strategy, including approval procedures and communication contacts, with an annual communications plan developed by the Parties’ Relationship Managers and approved by the Relationship Management Committee;
• Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to limit the freedom of IUCN to maintain an objective view of, or to comment in any way on, Rio Tinto and the Rio Tinto Group’s policies and/or actions, nor to limit the freedom of Rio Tinto to maintain an objective view of, or to comment in any way on, IUCN’s policies and/or actions.

• This Agreement ends following a period of three (3) Programme Years, from the Effective Date, unless terminated earlier;
• Either Party may terminate this Agreement without cause by giving six months notice in writing to the other Party; and
• If a Party fails to perform any of its material obligations under this Agreement, and fails to remedy that failure within thirty (30) days of receiving a notice from the other Party requiring it to do so, the other Party may terminate this Agreement with immediate effect by notice in writing to the Party in default.

• Under this Agreement the relationship of the Parties is not one of partnership, joint venture, or agency and nothing in this Agreement is to be treated as constituting or shall be construed to constitute a Party as the partner, agent, joint venturer, employee, or legal representative of the other Party for any purpose.

• A number of projects have been identified, with the initial focus for the three-year agreement to include: verification of Rio Tinto’s biodiversity Net Positive Impact (NPI) commitment (develop, test, and implement an independent verification process to assess Rio Tinto’s compliance against its NPI target); environmental economics capacity and natural capital projects (identify and quantify the biodiversity and ecosystem service values in key regions where Rio Tinto operates, under business-as-usual and conservation scenarios); and general collaboration (benefit from each organization’s specialist skill sets, experience, and networks by working collaboratively or providing input into each other’s projects).

The Spanish version of the above will be available in due course.

A number of reactions have been received in follow up to the signing of the collaborative agreement with Rio Tinto by IUCN. We publish them on this page, together with IUCN Director General’s response (also available in Spanish and French).

IUCN intends to be fully transparent and will continue to post responses on this page. An area for comments has been established below. IUCN welcomes the views of its constituents.


Partnership between Airbus and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity


Not that this comes as a surprise to citizens and organizations that have witnessed the sell out of the Convention on Biodiversity over the past years. The Convention on Biodiversity even produced a joint report with Shell in 2007: Report:

Oh, and by the way, at the last World Conservation Congress, the general assembly of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many participants proudly walked around with buttons stating “Nature is our Business”.

This is not a joke – IUCN itself offered business courses for its members during the congress on how to better “market” nature conservation.

It gets worse

Some former IUCN-staff are now promoting the adoption of a “green development mechanism” at the upcoming Conference of the Parties.

There also is an active “Business and Biodiversity Initiative” which is promoting, amongst others, biodiversity offsets. You can read this report: to understand how this is working out in Paraguay.

It can be easily summarized as:

You can continue to burn forests for soy plantation expansion as long as you give a donation to WWF (which has conveniently included the possibility for these offsets in the criteria for “responsible” soy). Needless to say, some Paraguayan IUCN members (especially the chair of the IUCN Commission for Environmental Law, who is director of a Paraguayan NGO) are actively trying to incorporate these payment for environmental services schemes into national REDD strategies.

After all, it’s the money they love…. (innovative financial mechanisms they call that in CBD slang)…

Thank you to Global Forest Coalition (An integral NGO) for insights and links. |

Airbus gets a crafty upgrade by flying the flag for biodiversity

A380 airliner to feature official logo for UN, despite aviation being a major source of emissions that threaten biodiversity

In this hand out image provided by Airbus, the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, takes its maiden flight over south-western France Photograph: H. GOUSSE/AP

Who do you think might just have been granted the right to display the official logo of the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity? A conservation body, perhaps. Or a new brand of organic food?

Well, no. It’s an aircraft manufacturer, actually. The world’s largest aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industries. The European company that is doing more than anyone else, Boeing included, to increase the number of flights we take, and thus the airline industry‘s contribution to climate change.

During 2010, the logo will appear on the side of Airbus’s latest airliner, the A380, on scheduled services with the world’s airlines. The largest passenger aircraft is specially designed for those long-haul flights across oceans and from Europe to the far east, where a single flight can more than double your annual CO2 emissions.

Airbus has won this green accolade by dint of hard cash. Airbus is helping fund a cherished project of the secretariat of the UN Convention on Biodiversity to educate young people across the world about the virtues of biodiversity, called the Green Wave Initiative. Airbus did not respond to questions from the Guardian about how much money is involved in the partnership, but the UN Environment Programme has described it as a “huge gesture of support“.

The Green Wave is a neat idea. To mark the International Day of Biodiversity on 22 May, young people will be asked to plant a tree at 10am local time wherever they are in the world. Thus they will create a “green wave” that will spread from east to west round the planet.

But it is an even neater idea for Airbus, the current trailblazer for an industry whose year-on-year carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than any other. At a time when climate change is widely recognised by ecologists as a leading cause of species loss around the world, Airbus’s adoption of a green mantle courtesy of a major UN conservation organisation might seem, well, ironic.

Airbus has increased its cuddlability quotient by partnering with National Geographic on the green wave project. National Geographic is an organisation with a sky-high green image. The duo got a special thank you from UN secretary-general Ban ki-Moon when they announceed the partnership last June.

Airbus has an answer to those who accuse it of greenwash. The company says that it is “pioneering greener flight”. And it is undoubtedly true that the Airbus A380 superjumbo has got its emissions down, thanks to lighter materials and smarter flying technology.

Airbus says it will reduce emissions to less than 75 grams of CO2 for every passenger kilometre. But that will not apply if its wide open spaces are filled with extra business and first-class seats as many purchasing airlines promise. Look out for Singapore Airline’s super-first class on the A380, with private suites, double beds and wardrobes and wide-screen TVs.

But even if Airbus achieves those low figures per passenger-kilometre in real operation, the big problem is that passenger-kilometres are going up far faster than aircraft efficiency is improving.

Emissions from the airline industry continue to rise by about 3% a year, taking up an ever greater share of total global man-made emissions. So a little humility might be in order from the world’s most prolific manufacturer of new planes. But, no.

Announcing the adoption of the logo this month, Airbus’s senior vice-president for public affairs and communications, Rainer Ohler baldly claimed that the aviation industry had “already reduced aircraft emissions by 70% in the last 40 years.”

You don’t need to be a statistician to spot the trick here. Not so much “hide the decline” as “hide the increase”. Ohler meant airlines had cut emissions per passenger-kilometre by 70% since the days before jumbo jets. But, to be clear, aircraft emissions are soaring. In Britain, for instance, they have risen since 1970 by between four- and five-fold.

They will continue to soar, while the likes of Airbus continues to fill the skies with chunks of flying metal the size of a football pitch. And whatever logo they put on the side of their planes, species will continue to go extinct as a result.