Environmental management in Ecopetrol and its Corporate Group seeks to prevent, control, mitigate and offset the potential environmental impacts of operations and projects in order to contribute to the improvement of the environmental quality of the territories where we operate, while aiming at sustainable development. Additionally, the environmental management division obtains the permits and authorizations from the competent authorities to carry out the works, projects and activities, and monitors strict compliance therewith.
In addition, the environmental management division develops voluntary and mandatory environmental investment initiatives and projects to manage impacts and contribute to the conservation of natural resources in the region.
Ecopetrol’s strategic environmental guidelines prioritize four lines of action for the period 2017-2020, as described below:
Line 1 - Comprehensive water management
Its objective is to incorporate efficient water management into the organization’s value chain as an enabler of projects and operations, seeking: the sustainability of the company; the reduction of environmental impacts and conflicts associated with water, and water security in the environment. The Comprehensive Water Management strategy includes the following axes:
- Operational efficiency in water management: aims at the proper management of water resources in operations, so as to maximize the reuse of this resource, contributing to its sustainability.
- Sustainability and water security in the environment: it focuses on the sustainability and water security of the environment, in order to guarantee the supply of natural capital for the recovery and conservation of water sources, as well as to promote the development of initiatives that reduce the gap in access to drinking water and basic sanitation of the communities present in the environment.
- Water planning and water governance: its purpose is to contribute to land use planning processes in the areas of strategic interest of the company, actively participating and providing relevant information in them, as well as promoting the generation of governance mechanisms that integrate initiatives of management of natural capital for the regulation and availability of water resources.
Line 2 - Climate Change
Ecopetrol has a climate change strategy that purports to reduce carbon emissions in operations and in the value chain, in line with the established goals; reducing the vulnerability of the operation to variability and climate change; and adequately managing risks and identifying opportunities in relation to this issue. Said strategy takes into account the Colombian Government’s policies and plans on climate change and seeks to align with the main international standards, such as the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
The axes for its implementation are:
- Mitigation: its purpose is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (in terms of CO2e) from the oil and gas value chain through a decarbonization plan established for this purpose, in accordance with the business objectives of sustainable growth and development.
- The decarbonization plan is structured in four main components: (i) Constant updating of the GHG inventory, (ii) Development and implementation of an emissions reduction portfolio, (iii) Design and implementation of a portfolio of compensation with Nature-Based Solutions, with a focus on climate change, and (iv) Development of the carbon neutrality roadmap.
- As part of the emissions reduction portfolio, Ecopetrol has been implementing energy efficiency programs and initiatives, use of gas, reduction of flaring, reduction of fugitive emissions and vents and renewable energies in different operating areas of the company.
- Work is being done on structuring a portfolio of compensation alternatives in order to progress towards the decarbonization of the company’s operations. Said portfolio will be implemented through the following mechanisms: (i) Acquisition of carbon credits; (ii) Ecopetrol’s participation in project design and development; (iii) development of projects in investment areas of 1% and mandatory environmental compensation, once the obligation ceases, and; (iv) projects in biodiversity centers on Ecopetrol’s own land.
- Vulnerability and adaptation: it purports is to reduce the risks and impacts of the company’s operations, associated with variability and climate change. To attain this, vulnerabilities to natural phenomena are identified in existing and future facilities and adaptation measures are established to reduce vulnerability in nearby facilities, communities and ecosystems. Regional plans for adaptation to variability (El Niño and La Niña) and climate change are being developed to reduce the possible impacts that these climatic phenomena may cause on infrastructure and operations.
- Technology and research: seeks to influence the reduction of the company’s GHG emissions through research and development actions in areas such as: process optimization, energy efficiency, energy diversification through low-carbon technologies such as Carbon Capture, Use and Sequestration and green hydrogen.
- Participation in climate change policy documents: this axis of the strategy aims to coordinate Ecopetrol’s actions on climate change to government policies and to adequately manage associated regulatory risks, keeping the company at the forefront of regulatory modifications.
Line 3 - Biodiversity
The biodiversity strategy is based on two axes: i) prevention and mitigation of impacts, ii) implementation of nature-based solutions that allow to respond to challenges associated with climate change, biodiversity management and water resources, food security or disaster risk, among others, seeking the sustainability of the territories in which we operate, coordinated with the objectives of sustainable development.
- Prevent and mitigate impacts on biodiversity: the objective of this axis is to have updated biodiversity information for decision-making, and resilience analysis, and to incorporate the mitigation hierarchy in the planning and implementation of projects and operations.
- Implement Nature-Based Solutions: its purpose is to carry out interventions at the landscape scale in priority areas preserving biodiversity and its ecosystem services.
Line 4 - Circular Economy
The circular economy model for Ecopetrol Group was structured in line with the National Circular Economy Strategy declared by the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development in 2019. This strategy defined the concept of circular economy as “Production and consumption systems that promote efficiency in the use of materials, water and energy, taking into account the resilience of ecosystems, the circular use of material flows through the implementation of technological innovation, partnerships and collaborations between stakeholders, and the promotion of business models that respond to the foundations of sustainable development”.
- In this sense, the main objective of the circular economy model is to incorporate this concept into management processes to promote economic growth, improve competitiveness and mitigate risks related to the environment and the volatility of raw material prices, in the medium term. This is based on five components: i) Efficient use of resources and new businesses, ii) Improvement and development of products and services, iii) Norms and public policies, iv) Land management towards circularity and v) Culture.
- The Circular Initiatives Portfolio was consolidated in the year 2020. This portfolio comprises 333 initiatives – 230 from Ecopetrol S.A., 97 from companies in the Corporate Group and 6 from industrial symbioses.