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Ekklesia, UK: Churchgoers urged to lobby Shell on corporate responsibility

Christians who hold shares in oil giant Royal Dutch Shell are being asked to support a move to make the company more socially and economically accountable to those at the receiving end of its operations.

The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), an organisation supported by Christian Aid and others which works to promote shareholder activism in the UK churches, is planning to bring a resolution calling for greater responsibility to the company’s 2006 Annual General Meeting.

ECCR believes that Shell’s impact on some of its ‘frontline’ communities – those living close to its operations – “merits urgent attention.”

The ecumenical pressure group is especially concerned about local communities and the environment close to Shell facilities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, County Mayo in Ireland and on Sakhalin Island off the coast of Russia.

The AGM resolution calls for “a major improvement in Shell’s performance in terms of community and stakeholder consultation, risk analysis, and social and environmental impact analysis.”

In 2004, Christian Aid, the UK-based development and relief agency, criticised the UK and Netherlands-based oil multinational for failing to prevent and clean up oil spills and for dividing communities around its Niger Delta operations.

In ‘Behind the Mask’, a critique of corporate responsibility, Christian Aid called on Shell to set up arms-length funding of community development projects and for a more prompt response to environmental problems.

Only 100 Shell shareholders are needed to co-sign the resolution before the end of February 2006, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility points out. Further details and the resolution wording and supporting statement are available at www.eccr.org.uk.

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