18 Mar 2019 Press release Energy

Protecting the environment in Mozambique’s emerging oil and gas sector

  • Mozambique is expected to become the world’s third largest natural gas exporter
  • UN Environment, supported by the Government of Norway, launched a report to strengthen Mozambique’s environmental management in the oil and gas sector

18 March 2019 – Mozambique is expected to become the world’s third largest natural gas exporter by 2023, bringing a projected $39 billion to the Mozambican economy over the next 20 years and creating over 700,000 jobs by 2035.

Finding substantial reserves of oil and natural gas can offer significant opportunities for the social, economic and political development of any country. However, without adequate environmental management, oil and gas operations can have lasting social and environmental impacts such as oil pollution and public health risks.

While the long-term goal of the UN Environment is to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels to fight climate change, it is also recognized that oil and gas will remain part of the global energy mix in the foreseeable future. Ensuring that oil and gas are produced in an environmentally and socially acceptable manner and do not impact negatively on local communities are therefore an integral part of UN Environment’s work in this sector.

In view of the impending increase in oil and gas exploration, the Government of Mozambique, in collaboration with UN Environment and Norway’s Oil for Development Programme, launched a report to strengthen Mozambique’s capacity to address environmental management challenges related to its oil and gas sector. The report’s 38 recommendations form a roadmap for the successful management of this important and rapidly developing sector.

At the report’s launch event in Maputo on 15 March, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development Sheila Santana Afonso underscored the Government’s commitment to maintain social and environmental safeguards in the development of hydrocarbon resources. “We must ensure that we deliver sustainable development benefits, for today’s generation and the next,” she added. 

Marcoluigi Corsi, the Acting Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Mozambique, who also delivered opening remarks, first expressed the UN’s solidarity with the people and Government of Mozambique, facing a state of emergency in the wake of Cyclone Idai. Mr. Corsi recognized the Government’s progress in strengthening environmental management in the country’s oil and gas sector, with support from partners such as Norway and The World Bank. “The report lays out what more could be done in order to protect the environment, on which people depend for their livelihoods,” he said.  

The launch event attracted over 50 participants from multiple Ministries, international development partners, academia, and the private sector including major oil and gas companies operating in the country, namely ExxonMobil, Anadarko and Sasol.

The report concluded that some of Mozambique’s most urgent challenges are the need to update the country’s oil spill preparedness and response strategy for both land and sea, and chemicals and waste management associated with the industry, given the projected expansion of the sector over the next decade. The report also highlights the importance of regulating, monitoring and documenting air emissions from the oil and gas sector, including methane, which is considered to be more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change. Other important challenges highlighted in the report relate to resources and technical capacity within MITADER, as well as institutional coordination across Ministries.

During the panel discussion, Marianne Angvik, Adviser to the Embassy of Norway stressed Norway’s strong commitment to support the Government of Mozambique, stating that “responsible petroleum management is essential to protect people’s livelihoods and achieve poverty reduction.” Paulo Jorge Sithoe, Environmental Specialist at the World Bank, highlighted the importance of developing more specific regulations and operational procedures to improve Government coordination and address overlapping roles and responsibilities.

“While the Government of Mozambique can address some of the recommendations internally, broad-based support from other partners including the private sector and academia is key,” said Marisol Estrella, Coordinator, UN Environment–Oil for Development Partnership, in her concluding remarks. “This report provides a roadmap for effectively working together and supporting Mozambique to achieve its sustainable development priorities.”

UN Environment and Norway are cooperating under the Environment Pillar of Norway’s Oil for Development Programme to enable countries to access and apply environmental management best practice and reduce risks of environmental pollution and degradation. The OfD Programme is operating in 14 countries, including Mozambique.


About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the global environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Marisol Estrella, Programme Coordinator, Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Environment