What was the issue?
Straddling the equator in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa’s oldest national park is the size of a small country. This treasured World Heritage Site has more than its share of wonderful wildlife – not just huge numbers of unique birds, but African icons like lions, elephants, hippos, chimps and the remarkable okapi. It’s also home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
So when we heard UK oil company Soco wanted to explore for oil inside Virunga National Park, we had to draw the line. Some places are just too precious to exploit.
What we did
We launched a global campaign to get Soco to drop their plans. Our petition collected more than 750,000 signatures, and we pursued a complaint against the company for breaching OECD guidelines on corporate behaviour. Together, we made a huge statement to the people threatening this amazing place.
What we achieved
It worked. In June 2014, Soco agreed to abandon its plans and pull out of the park. They also agreed not to conduct any operations in any other World Heritage site – a huge triumph for our shared heritage.
Since Virunga, we have continued to campaign to protect our shared heritage all around the world – from Donana in southern Spain to the Belize Barrier Reef.
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