In 2016, in addition to our core commitment to environmental protection and stewardship in our operations, our environmental contributions totaled $3.5 million, of which more than $1.8 million supports programs and communities outside the United States. Our investments focus on several critical areas, including: conservation in a range of ecosystems; environmental education and outreach; and scientific research of environmental issues of global importance. Of course, these contributions are only a small portion of our company’s overall investments in the environmental area. For example, investments do not include environmental capital and operating expenditures, which totaled approximately $4.9 billion in 2016.
We collaborate with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) to actively manage our land for the benefit of wildlife, while developing educational and outreach programs. Under WHC’s certification program we currently have 15 certified programs. Four programs have transitioned to WHC’s new Conservation Certification, which combines wildlife habitat initiatives and educational outreach. These include: Houston (Texas) campus, St. Mary’s Island in Houston’s ship channel, Joliet (Illinois) refinery and Billings (Montana) refinery. The remaining 11 programs consist of Wildlife at Work or Corporate Lands for Learning programs that will transition to the new Conservation Certification as those sites cycle through the recertification process.
Over the past two years, ExxonMobil Research Qatar has worked in partnership with Qatar University, Texas A&M-Galveston and the Qatar Ministry of Environment to research and better understand the biology and habitat of the Qatari dugongs. The research team has been active in local community outreach to educate the people of Qatar about dugongs and the importance of conserving this native species.
Additionally, through our Papua New Guinea biodiversity offset program, we have partnered with the Papua New Guinean Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority to support a national biodiversity strategy.