Overview of the BirdLife International – Rio Tinto Partnership
In 2001, BirdLife International and Rio Tinto formed a partnership to achieve mutually held goals of biodiversity conservation within the context of the global transition to sustainable development. Since its establishment, the partnership has helped the two organisations deliver sustainable and far-reaching outcomes, where their shared objectives are more effectively met by working together than by acting alone.
Biodiversity and its management are of strategic importance to Rio Tinto. Worldwide, the company works in regions that are recognised and valued locally and globally for their biodiversity resources. By working with respected international and national conservation and environmental organisations, such as BirdLife International and its national partners, Rio Tinto can better develop and implement programmes around the management of biodiversity.
BirdLife’s scientific expertise and global biodiversity databases place them in a strong position to identify global conservation priorities relevant to Rio Tinto operations. Furthermore, through its global Partnership, grass-roots organisational networks and widespread technical capacity, BirdLife is well positioned to identify and develop local collaborative conservation initiatives between Rio Tinto business units and local partners.
The partnership realises that both organisations have a significant overlap of agendas - biodiversity conservation within the context of sustainable development – and are able to collaborate to meet these objectives. For example, BirdLife International, along with other conservation organisations, has assisted with the development of Rio Tinto’s biodiversity strategy and continues to aid its implementation across the Rio Tinto Group. In its strategy, Rio Tinto has established a landmark commitment to achieving a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity, by minimising the negative impacts of its activities and by making appropriate contributions to conservation. This has become a key reference, guiding much of BirdLife’s ongoing work with Rio Tinto.
More widely known as the Rio Tinto – BirdLife International Programme, one of the partnership's greatest achievements over the first seven years was translating good working relationships into meaningful action on the ground. Working with BirdLife and other biodiversity partners helped Rio Tinto to develop tools and good practice for integrating biodiversity conservation into its core business practices. Moreover, the partnership brought together Rio Tinto businesses and local BirdLife Partners to implement successful collaborative biodiversity and sustainable development projects.
The first phase of the Rio Tinto-BirdLife International Programme was successfully completed in 2007, and, in 2008, in mutual recognition of the value of the partnership and its outcomes, the two organisations renewed their partnership agreement until 2012. As the programme enters its second phase, BirdLife and Rio Tinto expect that it will continue to provide a good example of how conservation outcomes can be delivered through effective corporate-civil society partnership.
The objectives of the programme are to:
- Improve knowledge and interest in birds throughout Rio Tinto’s operations.
- Improve or monitor habitats for birds at Rio Tinto sites or within nearby communities.
- Assist and advise Rio Tinto about local and regional conservation issues.
- Assist Rio Tinto in the implementation of an effective global Biodiversity Strategy, with informed and targeted corporate and local actions.
- Advise Rio Tinto sites and projects on effective biodiversity risk assessment, impact mitigation and offset.
- Assist and advise Rio Tinto in the measurement and monitoring of progress with regard to its goal of Net Positive Impact on biodiversity.
- Create opportunities to link with local and relevant communities on the integrated conservation and management of biodiversity.
- Gain long-term support for BirdLife’s Important Bird Area (IBA) programme.
- Promote and develop stewardship roles for practical action at Important Bird Areas and for threatened species.
- Develop strategic initiatives for sustainable development with targeted benefits for birds and biodiversity.