When Jules Paquette, president and CEO of Boréalis, decided to organize a conference on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Montreal, on September 2012, some people perceived it as just another CSR event. But the idea actually came from business partners who wanted to discuss more specifically about data management of CSR. Jules answers some of the questions attendee’s might have about the Boréalis conferences.
Vincent Frigon: What is the objective of the Boréalis Conferences?
Jules Paquette: We want to have a real discussion on the data management of stakeholder engagements. Practitioners and professionals alike in the extractive industries can get to a consensus on what needs to be done with stakeholders in order to succeed with a particular project. But that’s not good enough. Businesses need to walk the talk and data management is key. Because you can only manage what you can measure. Many people had requested that we organize a conference on this topic, and last year’s conference demonstrated there’s a real need for this kind of event.
V.F.: What did you find out?
J.P.: We had our ideas, at Boréalis, on how we can better help companies in achieving their CSR goals. But some of the best ideas actually came from the attendees themselves. We discovered there is a strong demand from smaller players in the industry that cannot afford a full blown enterprise solution as well as a general need for more advanced analytics capabilities. These two features are part of the new solutions we’re introducing this year, such as the SaaS solution for junior miners and explorers and Boréalis Analytics.
Best practices in social performance management are evolving fast and our solution must follow the same path. Also, we want to make sure we’re finding solutions to what really matters. In the extractive projects, stakeholder engagement is a central issue. Building on that, communities will support projects if they understand what is in it for them. That’s why this year we are going to talk about community benefits. We want to find ways to maximize positive impacts, to counterbalance the negative ones.
V.F.: The Boréalis Conference 2013 is in Brisbane, Australia this year. Why so?
J.P.: Australia has seen a major growth in the extractive industries over the last years and large projects in the region are engaging companies and local communities into a new partnership. So, there’s obviously a need for implementing best practices and using cutting edge technologies for social performance and stakeholder management. Brisbane is at the epicenter of our activities in the region and is also where Boréalis opened its Australian office two years ago. The conference being in North America last year, it was less accessible for clients and partners from the Asia-Pacific region. We want to provide them a closer venue this year allowing them to participate. We anticipate moving the conference around the world in this way every year.
The theme of this year’s conference is Community Benefits – Creating a positive change. The 2-day event will take place at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane. Boréalis experts will discuss the challenges faced by extractive projects and analyse how the presence of such projects can be leveraged to generate a positive impact on nearby communities. They will be joined by external guest speakers, including Bruce Harvey, Jennifer Davis, Stephan Lorenzen and Gary MacDonald, just to name a few. Save the date: September 18-19, 2013.