The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to amplifying the voices of marginalised groups, has collaborated with multiple Nigerian civil society organisations to challenge the actions of international investors in Shell and other oil companies operating in Nigeria.
In a compelling move this May, ANEEJ, along with 30 other Nigerian civil society groups, issued an urgent appeal to Norway’s Oil Fund, imploring for support in holding fossil fuel companies accountable for the environmental and social damages caused by Shell’s projects in Ogoni Land, located in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Despite Norway’s Oil Fund touting a successful 10-year dialogue with Shell in its Responsible Investment report released this February, wherein they highlighted collaborative efforts to address pollution and community well-being, local groups on the ground in Nigeria were taken aback. The reality, as observed by Niger Delta residents and numerous investigative reports, including the Independent Monitoring of the Ogoniland Clean-up, paints a vastly different picture of the impact of Shell’s activities.
In an open letter to Nicolai Tangen, the head of Norway’s Oil Fund, 31 Nigerian groups representing various faiths, indigenous communities, women, and youth united in a plea for action. The letter calls for a fact-finding mission to the Niger Delta in partnership with civil society organisations, aiming to uncover the true state of affairs. Additionally, the letter urges the fund to vote against Shell’s Chair and Directors, citing concerns over the transition plan update during the company’s 2023 annual general meeting. The appeal also emphasises the importance of redirecting substantial investments towards the advancement of renewable energy technologies, thereby promoting a just transition away from fossil fuels.
Dishearteningly, Norway’s Oil Fund voted to support Shell’s management on all fronts at the company’s 2023 AGM, prompting scepticism regarding the alignment of the Fund’s values with those of Shell’s practices.
Notably, the letter holds the Norwegian Fund accountable for its significant investment in Shell, a company implicated in the Niger Delta’s environmental and social challenges as well as its role in exacerbating climate change. The letter further urges the Fund to acknowledge its role and impact and to divest from Shell’s holdings, as demonstrated by the Church of England Pension Board’s exclusion of oil and gas majors from its portfolio.
As ANEEJ’s appeal asserts, the communities in the Niger Delta cannot afford to wait another decade. The need to compensate affected communities and hasten the transition to sustainable and equitable technologies is more pressing than ever. ANEEJ remains resolute in pursuing answers and seeking tangible actions to address these critical concerns.
The urgency of accountability in the Niger Delta calls for swift action from international stakeholders, and ANEEJ is unwavering in its commitment to advocate for the well-being of affected communities and a more sustainable future.