It’s been a non-stop couple of months for everybody! Now we’re back from the Oscars and we’re thrilled that Virunga’s very own André, Rodrigue and Mélanie were there to represent the park and the film at the world’s most prestigious awards ceremony (and one of the biggest media opportunities of the year).
We may not have won the top prize but we’re so honored to have been included in such an inspiring documentary line up this year and the profile the awards season gave us has grown #TeamVirunga even more.
You’ve really taken this campaign on as your own and your support for Virunga National Park is having the most incredible impact.
Many of you have written to SOCO’s shareholders asking them to positively engage with the company
You’re sharing the threats facing Virunga which in turn gives the local communities a bigger voice on an international business and political stage
You’ve been supporting the park through regular donations
And hundreds of you have visited the park as a tourist… AMAZING!!
And your efforts are making a difference.
Just last month, the Church of England joined #TeamVirunga in seeking answers from the British oil company. In an unprecedented move, they publicly stated their dissatisfaction with SOCO’s failure to adequately address the concerns raised in our movie and subsequent reports. Shared more than 20,000 times on the Guardian to date, the Church’s demands call for SOCO to do three things:
1. Conduct a wide-ranging and transparent investigation into their operations in the park
2. Amend the WWF-SOCO agreement to establish a clear commitment never to explore for oil in Virunga National Park
3. Adopt and publish best practice standards.
If you’d like to read the Church’s full statement, here’s the link.
This is really significant progress but the work doesn’t stop now. Virunga is still not safe. Those of you taking action already, please keep up your incredible work and those who have yet to take action, here’s a reminder of how you can help by writing to your shareholders.
How to encourage positive shareholder engagement:
If you’ve noticed that you have investments in a company tied to SOCO (be that directly or indirectly) here’s what to do...
It’s ultimately your choice but it shouldn't be necessary to change your investments. Rather, write to your investment company’s ethical fund manager and ask them to:
Positively engage with SOCO International in order to safeguard for the future of the park. Your voice within a company is powerful and they should care about your concerns.
Ask SOCO International to carry out an adequate independent investigation into the allegations, accounting for their worrying lack of oversight whilst operating in the DRC.
Ask SOCO International to make an absolute commitment to the DRC government and UNESCO never to explore in Virunga National Park, regardless of its World Heritage Status, but also to commit to an exit plan that properly safeguards the block (e.g. responsible measures to ensure the block permit is not simply sold on).
When you sign off, why not ask your shareholder to confirm receipt of your letter and an outline of how they intend to positively engage with SOCO moving forward? Why not use the news of the Church of England’s stance as an example.
Finally, let us know how you get on! It’s really helpful to hear your feedback and we’re happy to see that so many of you are making your voices heard.