Review of Major Mining, Oil, and Gas Company Policies on Free Prior and Informed Consent and Social License
The following document is an attempt to cull publicly available statements concerning community consent by leading oil, gas and mining companies. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but is merely our best effort to compile existing statements by corporations on this issue.
The principle of community consent is one of the most critical issues facing the global oil and mining industries. Around the world, local communities are demanding a meaningful voice in determining whether and under what conditions large scale oil, natural gas and mining projects take place. For indigenous peoples, free, prior and informed consent is an increasingly recognized right under international law. International financial institutions such as the World Bank now require their clients to obtain broad community support before proceeding with projects. For their part, companies have begun to acknowledge the need to obtain a social license to operate‖ from the communities in which they work.
Oxfam America believes that companies in the extractive sectors should seek to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of local communities. The precise definition of that consent and of the communities that provide it will vary from one location to the next. There is no one size fits all approach that will be appropriate in every situation. However, at its root the concept of consent implies a relationship with communities that is based on partnership and mutual respect. Companies must not simply treat communities as passive objects of their activities, but as stakeholders with basic rights and real interests in the outcomes of extraction-related decision-making. In addition to being a question of rights and basic fairness, for companies community consent is also increasingly a bottom-line issue. Community opposition can cause delays, closures and even cancellation of projects.
In any exercise of this kind, it is almost inevitable that relevant pieces of information will be overlooked. Where that is the case, we welcome feedback from companies or other stakeholders that will supplement the information provided here. We see this as a living document that we will attempt to update on an occasional basis.