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Thoughts on ICMM’s Land Acquisition and resettlement: Lessons Learned

Have you read ICMM’s Land acquisition and resettlement: Lessons learned? Here’s a review by Louis Lieutenant, our Land Access expert.

ICMM recently published Land acquisition and resettlement: Lessons learned1, a very interesting and comprehensive document that offers great insights based on more than 40 projects worldwide, mainly in the mining sector.

Although we’ve been exposed to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Performance Standard 5 on Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettle... for years, we rarely see a more challenging area for companies trying to bring their projects to life in practice.

With many things easier said than done – including the identification and documentation of all individuals that will be economically or physically impacted by a project – the definition of a transparent, inclusive and clear compensation framework is quite challenging. And let’s not forget as well the implementation of that process knowing that we’re frequently dealing with the compensation of several hundreds or even thousands of people over a short period of time.

The paper refers to several specific modules, most of which are a phase of land acquisition. I’ve chosen a few of them for this blog: Impact Assessments, Engaging stakeholders, Resettlement packages and assistance, and Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting.

Impact assessments

From the drawing table it’s often clear that a project will impact people. Question is: what are these impacts likely to be? To identify them project staff must collect local baseline data, engage with project-affected communities and develop a social management and monitoring plan. Recommendations suggest “Companies should ensure that social experts play a central role in defining the project footprint and examining project alternatives in order to minimize the impacts of land access and resettlement.” (page 16). While I agree with this statement, I also feel that there is some risk regarding long-term sustainability of the data collected; as soon as social experts complete their assessments and leave, the information almost disappears with them, or is left in an unusable format to the project team. Why not put that baseline data to further use throughout the project lifecycle? After all tremendous efforts (and amounts of money) were necessary to collect it.

Read the full article here.

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