New Barclays policy to protect World Heritage sites: a welcome first step
- Barclays will no longer fund harmful projects in the world’s most precious places – WWF pleased with move but hopes more will be done
- WWF is calling on all banks to improve and lodge policies to protect our natural heritage
LONDON, 1 May 2018 – Barclays has announced their first public policy that will prevent the bank from financing projects in World Heritage sites and Ramsar Wetlands, following WWF’s call for the world’s banks to stop financing damaging activities in the planet’s most precious places.
Despite being awarded the highest levels of protection by the United Nations, almost half of all natural and mixed World Heritage sites are threatened by harmful industrial practices such as oil and gas exploration and mining. One such project that Barclays has been linked to funding is the controversial Canadian Trans Mountain Pipeline, which carries crude and refined oil from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia including through Alberta's Jasper National Park World Heritage site. Since 1954 there have been six oil spills from the section of the pipeline that overlaps the World Heritage site.
Chris Gee, Head of Campaigns, WWF-UK said:
“The announcement by Barclays of their first public World Heritage site policy is a welcome first step on their journey to protecting World Heritage sites. The new policy will also help ensure the bank challenges any client with a project in a UNESCO World Heritage site, even if the bank has not funded that project directly.
“We need to see all major banks revising or putting in place strong policies which will protect World Heritage sites and the wildlife and local communities that depend on them.”
Barclays’ new policy will cover mining, oil and gas and major infrastructure industries. It states they have “no appetite” for financing transactions that support the development or expansion of projects in World Heritage sites, Ramsar Wetlands or their buffer zones unless such development will not “adversely affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the site.” The bank has stated that they will review the policy annually and “expect to broaden its scope to include other financial transactions that directly support such projects”.
Last year, WWF launched a report How Banks Can Safeguard Our World Heritage with Lord Adair Turner, which was attended by banks including Barclays. The report outlines what elements strong World Heritage site policies should include. This followed research that found that none of the 10 major global banks analyzed have fully comprehensive World Heritage policies in place.
Mechtild Rössler, Director of the World Heritage Centre said:
“The World Heritage Centre welcomes Barclays’ statement on World Heritage and Ramsar Wetlands. While currently restricted to project finance transactions, the Centre believes this is an important step towards ensuring that Barclays capital is not funding activities which could impact World Heritage sites. We appreciate the intention of Barclays to further broaden the scope of the statement beyond project finance in the future and look forward to seeing an even stronger policy in the coming year.”
WWF believes that banks are uniquely placed, and have a responsibility, to ultimately support the protection of the environment and those who depend on it.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Chris Gee, Head of Campaigns, WWF-UK is available for interview.
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WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources