This week, the Global Secretariat for World Wildlife Fund in Gland, Switzerland (WWF) filed a complaint alleging that the British oil company, Soco International PLC’s oil exploration of Virunga National Park has violated environmental and human rights provisions of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The complaint was filed with Britain's Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which supervises OECD guidelines. WWF has also created its own campaign to keep oil exploration out of Virunga.
Located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Virunga National Park is the most bio diverse protected area in Africa and one of the continent’s oldest World Heritage Sites. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee maintains that oil exploration is inconsistent with the World Heritage Convention and has called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits.
“Soco must end all exploration in Virunga National Park in order to comply with the OECD guidelines. WWF urges the company to stop its activity immediately and calls on the DRC government to enforce its laws prohibiting environmentally harmful activities in protected areas,” said Allard Blom, Managing Director for the Congo Basin, WWF.
Soco’s own impact assessment shows that oil exploration could cause pollution, damage habitats and bring poaching to this fragile ecosystem. It could also harm residents’ health and damage the natural resources upon which 50,000 people depend. In addition, a WWF report found that Virunga National Park could be worth US$1.1 billion per year if developed sustainably and could be the source of 45,000 permanent jobs for residents.