In 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and IPIECA released a joint report, Mapping the Oil and Gas Industry to the SDGs: An Atlas (from here on referred to as the Atlas). The Atlas focuses on creating a shared understanding of the implications of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the oil and gas industry and how the industry can most effectively contribute to their achievement. The Atlas offers an overview of opportunities and challenges, demonstrating the actual and potential contributions of the industry to the achievement of the SDGs. It reviews each goal separately, highlighting existing knowledge and resources, examples of good practice, and case studies of innovative efforts by companies in support of each goal.

This paper will discuss the aims of the Atlas, which is to encourage companies to further incorporate relevant SDGs into their business and operations, validate their current efforts, and spark new ideas. If replicated and applied widely, the practices and examples presented in the Atlas could make important contributions to the SDGs. Success will require substantial and sustained leadership by national and local governments, in partnership with the private sector, communities and civil society, development agencies, and other stakeholders. Oil and gas companies can more effectively contribute by collaborating with stakeholders to broaden their impact and enhance their ability to leverage additional resources in support of the SDGs agenda.

Whilst developing the Atlas, the authors found that the oil and gas industry has the potential to contribute to all 17 SDGs. However, there are some SDGs where the industry has particularly strong opportunities to contribute, for example, the goals relating to affordable and reliable energy (SDG7); climate action and life on land and in water (SDGs 13, 14 and 15); economic development and innovation (SDGs 8 and 9); and health and access to clean water (SDGs 3 and 6). To demonstrate the contribution the industry can make, this paper will take a deep dive into goal 7; drawing upon the case studies and information from the Atlas and highlighting their interlinked nature by illustrating how contributing to just one goal can influence other goals.

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