Business Partners for Development: natural resources cluster quarterly update No. 6

Business Partners for Development: natural resources cluster quarterly update No. 6

Partnership with local communities benefits enterprises and effected communities

This article covers a case study of the 'partnering' process undertaken by the Sarshatali coal mining project, India, and the outcomes for business, communities and governance.

The main findings regarding the partnering process are as follows:

  • Senior managers within the company were essential to 'champion' the process of partnership building.
  • Developing trust between the partners, and negotiating specific roles and accountability, required periodic third-party facilitation over three months.
  • The process was unsuccessful in attracting international development assistance agencies, the project investors or international NGOs into the partnership.
  • Implementation of the partnerships objectives required flexibility by project investor to allow deviation form its detailed commitments to social management contained within contractual agreement.
  • Continuous dialogue between the partners was a key factor of success in the maintenance and adaptation of the partnership over time.

The partnership outcomes for local communities included:

  • greater participation in the design of resettlement and income restoration programmes
  • improvements in the livelihood-relevance, long-term sustainability and time-to-benefit of community projects
  • greater reach of the company's social management plans
  • better access for community representatives to senior government officials and company staff

The partnership outcomes for the corporation included:

  • a perception by the local communities and NGOs that the company is now more responsive and transparent
  • the company's 'social license to operate' was made more durable to the uncertainty of financial closure
  • cost-sharing with government departments; increased channels of communication to prevent community mistrust of the company

The partnership outcomes for governance included:

  • local government authorities were more 'visible' in discharging their civic duties
  • more effective 'joined-up' government, for example, between different departments
  • more immediate implementation of government programmes
  • evidence for regulatory authorities and investors of compliance with requirements for social management.

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