Oil for Development

Strengthening data and capacity for environmental management of the oil & gas sector

Find out more about the Oil for Development programme here


Environmental Sensitivity Mapping for Oil & Gas Development - A high-level review of methodologies


MESA: Mapping Environmentally Sensitive Assets – A spatial tool to support environmental management


MESA Toolkit

Executive Webinar on Oil & Gas  Operations in Environmentally Sensitive Areas



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The Challenge

In many developing countries, the oil & gas sector plays an important role and has the potential to generate significant economic and social development opportunities. However, if oil and gas operations are not effectively managed, they can lead to severe environmental impacts from habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation (e.g. from infrastructure development such as production plants and pipelines) or species mortality and disturbance (e.g. from seismic surveys and drilling activities, or from accidental oil spills). The development of effective management mechanisms to govern oil & gas sector-related risks in a proactive rather than reactive way is hindered in many countries by a lack of institutional capacity as well as access to relevant environmental data.


With its support to the Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA) under the Oil for Development programme, UNEP-WCMC builds capacities in partner countries and strengthens availability, use, and management of biodiversity data for environmental management of the oil & gas sector.

Our solution & impact

Through the Oil for Development programme, Norway shares its experience from more than four decades of managing oil & gas resources. Since 2017, NEA and UNEP-WCMC have been running a successful partnership that delivers country assistance on environmental data management, analysis and use, and generates bespoke guidance materials to address identified needs. At the same time, we ensure that our products can be applicable globally to increase the potential to support other countries.


Global support

The global component of our work focuses on generating standard approaches and guidance that can support all countries involved in the Oil for Development (OfD) programme, as well as any other country for which they are relevant.


The main focus to date has been on developing comprehensive guidance materials on environmental sensitivity mapping to meet a common need across OfD partner countries. Following a first global workshop in Trondheim (Norway) in June 2018 led by NEA, a technical workshop was held in Arusha (Tanzania) in September 2019. During the five-day event, we delivered hands-on training and support to countries on developing sensitivity atlases using the newly-developed MESA (Mapping Environmentally Sensitive Assets) spatial tool, and facilitated peer-to-peer exchange and action planning. Environmental and planning authorities from the following countries participated: Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), and Uganda.



Environmental Sensitivity Mapping for Oil & Gas Development – A high-level review of methodologies

MESA: Mapping Environmentally Sensitive Assets – A spatial tool to support environmental management


We have also developed a four-day training course on “Upstream oil & gas operations in environmentally sensitivity areas” in partnership with colleagues in UNEP and IPIECA, the global oil & gas industry association. It was delivered at a regional-level in September 2018 in Nairobi (Kenya) with participants from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), and Uganda. In October 2019, we delivered the training in Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), tailored to the national context. A 1.5h webinar, based on the training, was delivered in November 2019 and is publicly available on Youtube (see link below). This forms part of the UNEP series of training courses provided under the UNEP partnership with OfD.

Executive Webinar on Oil & Gas Operations in Environmentally Sensitive Areas


Country-specific support

Our country-specific support includes key projects in Ghana, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Somalia, and Uganda. Working with national environmental authorities, conservation departments and petroleum administrations, we focus on:

•                  Delivering bespoke training and capacity development;

•                  Facilitating improved environmental data access and management; and

•                  Developing databases, knowledge products and guidance, which include environmental sensitivity atlases, priority spatial datasets and metadata standard guidelines.

Expertise & Team

Our work under the Oil for Development programme benefits from the input of a variety of experts across UNEP-WCMC, including specialists within the Business and Biodiversity Programme who engage with the oil & gas sector, marine scientists, GIS and data analysts as well as area-based planning specialists.

Sylvaine rols web 2

Sylvaine Rols

Project Lead, Programme Officer

Sharon brooks

Sharon Brooks

Senior Programme Officer

Lauren weatherdon web

Lauren Weatherdon

Senior Programme Officer

Katie dawkins crop

Katie Dawkins

Programme Officer

Andrea 0720

Andrea C. Baquero

Programme Officer


Osgur McDermott Long

Data Manager and Programme Officer

Luca koener web

Luca K├Ârner

Associate Programme Officer

Joe gosling web

Joe Gosling

Associate Programme Officer

Partners & Donors

Our work is implemented in collaboration with the Norwegian Environment Agency as part of NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation)’s Oil for Development programme.