Recommendations for Extractive Projects
Activities of consultation and communication with stakeholders should be established in a comprehensive and inclusive manner throughout the life of a project. Compliance with laws and requirements set by the governments (for example: Environmental Impact Study (EIA) approval) or the borrower should not be the only motivation behind them. Such a short-term vision transforms into a series of meetings that have no value when it comes to establishing a constructive relationship with communities.
This article – which is divided in two posts – will discuss some practices that have proven to be successful in various projects in the extractive industries (mining and oil & gas) with regard to maintaining an effective relationship with stakeholders. Before implementing the recommendations offered, their applicability to each specific context should be analyzed.
Identification of Stakeholders
Identifying the project stakeholders is the first step is to take. Stakeholders who are directly or indirectly affected by a project. People, organizations and / or key groups and their relationships need to be established. The leaders of the different organizations must be identified as they have influence.
Identification of stakeholders becomes more sensitive in cases where there are indigenous communities or vulnerable groups who may be unrepresented, and when there are gender issues in specific contexts.
Governments are primary actors and the associations already formed and functioning can be allies in implementing projects, or in validating accountability of the company to the community. This is an important element that should not be overlooked.
A helpful tool to identify potential interest groups is the list proposed by ICMM in the document Community Development Toolkit.
Analysis of Stakeholders
Having identified the stakeholders, their analysis continues. It includes discovering in what manner and extent they will be affected by the project. Their interests or positions, and their attitudes towards it must also be determined.
Not all individuals who form a group or organization will have the same position or opinion on the project or different topics related to it (e.g. Supplementary projects, Resettlement, local employment, etc.). The type of communication that will take place must be selected once identified.
With the different types of stakeholders known and identified, it is possible to establish criteria for evaluating different alternatives to improve the relationship between the company and the various stakeholders.
Basic rules should be followed for any interaction, such as attention, respect, accountability, impartiality and transparency. These are key issues that both partners must work continuously maintain.
Attention: to the safety, health and welfare of employees, contractors, partners and host communities
Respect: for people and the environment, ensuring sensitivity to the issues and the ability to respond to the values of the host society, that is, the receiving community
Accountability: to do what you say you will do. Uphold and respect commitments
Impartiality: as the basis for the distribution of benefits and opportunities to employees, host communities and governments
Transparency: interacting in an open and inclusive way, to jointly address the challenges and opportunities being faced