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sharing in governance of extractive industries

Chris Anderson and new company, Yirri Global.

As some of you know, I left Rio Tinto a few weeks ago after a great few years with a great company to set out on my own. I am now the Principal at Yirri Global. 'Yirri' is a Kuku-Yalanji word (a very active Australian Aboriginal language from North Queensland, spoken by a group of people with whom i have had very close contacts for more than 35 years). The word can be defined as 'flowing water' but it is also the name of the father and grandfather of my great mentor, brother and friend, the late Bob Yerry. I have also chosen the Ashanti adinkra symbol for 'reconciliation' as a logo for our company. These things (the name and the symbol) represent two very significant eras in my life - with Kuku-Yalanji people in the Australian rain forest of the northern Daintree in the 70s and 80s, and my seven years in Ghana, West Africa. Both experiences taught me an enormous amount about culture and the human experience and both gave me the passionate belief and the commitment that only wise and sustainable business can overcome poverty - as long as local communities are convinced that the business activity can be done in an environmentally safe manner, that they have a say in decisions that impact them and that they benefit from it. Assisting business and communities to come to engagement and agreement that embodies this is my renewed mission and passion!”

Yirri is thus a boutique firm that offers social performance counsel and strategic communication. We operate globally and across several industries and sectors. Yirri is based on the premise that many companies still regard 'Corporate Social Responsibility' as philanthropy, donation and sponsorship - throwing only money at the 'problem' that local communities can present to a business. It is clear now that government permits, licenses and regulatory approvals are insufficient. Communities can slow or halt construction and development, impede production and, in fact, destroy a business or investment entirely. Our experience, worldwide over the last seventeen years, is that communities can work together with business; they want development and economic growth as long as the environment is protected and as long as they have a role in decisions that impact them. They can be a lower cost option for employment and supply chain in addition to supporting a peaceful business context. Achieving this is not rocket science and it is not necessarily costly. It requires effective due diligence prior to investment, the building of a social knowledge base, strategic and effective engagement and partnerships.

Yirri can provide comprehensive advice at each of these stages. We specialize in offering counsel to senior executives on community risk and how well their teams are dealing with this. And, we can especially fill a gap where a firm may not have the people or resources for a dedicated in-house Communities function. We are particularly strong in the areas of Indigenous peoples issues, Aboriginal engagement and Free, Prior & Informed Consent. Other areas of expertise include: outrage management, communities and social performance (assessment; audits, strategic planning, monitoring and reporting tools); stakeholder engagement (including internal capacity building); government relations; media; resettlement; human rights; NGO engagement; and advocacy and communication.

 Let me know if you want more information.

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