sharing in governance of extractive industries
January 1, 2016 marked the day new legislative and regulatory provisions entered into force in Quebec, thus modifying the Mining Act with the addition of 7 new provisions for mining companies to respect. In order to better understand what these changes mean for both mining companies and communities, let’s explore the concept of social acceptance, which is closely tied to corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Although to this day there are still many definitions out there for social acceptance, we’ll use the same the Mnistère de l’Énergie et des Ressources Naturelles chose for the Promoting Social Acceptability effort back in 2004:
The result of a process where concerned parts built together the minimal conditions to implement for a project, a program or a policy to harmoniously integrate, and at a given time, in its natural and human environment.
In other words, social acceptance (which can also be referred to as social license to operate) is an agreement between project developers and individuals and organizations that are or will be affected by the operations of a given project throughout its lifecycle. This agreement does not happen overnight, on the contrary! It requires numerous discussions between parties, regular consultations to take the communities’ pulse and, most importantly, is never guaranteed.
Just like the project and communities do, social acceptance evolves over time. Many things can shake this fragile agreement: an incident, unequal or unfair compensation, non-respect of promises like local employment, even corruption in some cases, etc. To learn more about social acceptance in Quebec and the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles’ implication, you can consult this Green Paper.
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