Community involvement in oil and gas activities has significantly increased in the past decade as a result of regulatory requirements around consultation and social impact assessment, global policy initiatives such as those led by the IFC and the UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, and advocacy from civil society. Gaining community acceptance is on the critical path for many projects across the industry. Concerned citizens can and do stop oil and gas activities that they view as impacting their way of life. Stakeholder resistance can lead to cost overruns and schedule delays that directly affect the bottom line. They can occasionally lead to litigation, withdrawal or refusal of permits, risks to the safety of the workforce and community members, and inability to operate a facility.
Many companies have external policy commitments around the social dimensions of sustainability, such as community relations, interaction with indigenous groups, local contracting, social benefits and human rights. These commitments are often supported by a series of internal requirements, systems and processes that support the delivery of effective social responsibility in practice. In some cases, integration of social responsibility is a simple matter of adding additional elements to existing management systems, and in other cases, separate systems may be put in place. These efforts are often supported by changes to organisational structure, and skilling up of staff.
IPIECA is developing guidance to its member companies on how to integrate social responsibility into their management systems in a number of areas. Relevant elements of these management systems include policies and standards, impact assessment and management, stakeholder engagement and grievance procedures, assurance and auditing, company risk assessment, competence development and reporting.
This paper outlines the current trends and challenges for integration and provides examples of good practice from across the industry.
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