Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sustainability Plan for Latin American Oil Producer

Carupano Venezuela with oil refinery in the background.
Click for photo credit.
I'm currently in South America so I thought I would post a bit about some of the sustainability initiatives I've found here for the rest of the week.  Today, I am sharing with you the sustainability plan for Respol, one of the largest oil companies in the world.  They are a Spanish company that works throughout much of Latin America.  Here is their sustainability plan for their Venezuelan operations.  Venezuela is one of the largest oil producers in the world, so this plan is an important one.

What is interesting about this plan is the strong focus on human rights and local economic development. This is not particularly surprising given the political situation in Venezuela.  However, while it has strengths in these areas, it must be noted that many large companies are also embracing social equity within their sustainability plan.  For example, take a look at Exxon's sustainability plan here.  It too speaks quite a bit about human rights and economic development.  Indeed, the content of the plans is somewhat similar, with obvious differences.  I think a comparative analysis would be a great student exercise or research project.

There is a tension that exists when thinking about big companies like Exxon or Respol.  Their actions have a tremendous impact on the environment.  There are some who think that their sustainability actions are a form of greenwashing.  However, at the same time, others are trying to make these companies more sustainable.  This tension is at the heart of sustainability.

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