- freely available
Land 2019, 8(6), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060101
2. The Standards to Which Companies Are Expected to Comply
3. Particular Issues Associated with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities
- They identify themselves as Indigenous peoples and are, at the individual level, accepted as members by their community;
- They have historical continuity or association with a given region or part of a given region prior to colonization or annexation;
- They have strong links to territories and surrounding natural resources;
- They maintain, at least in part, distinct social, economic, and political systems;
- They maintain, at least in part, distinct languages, cultures, beliefs, and knowledge systems;
- They are resolved to maintain and further develop their identity and distinct social, economic, cultural, and political institutions as distinct peoples and communities;
- They form non-dominant sectors of society.
- Indigenous peoples’ rights are the foundation upon which all discussions must be initiated. Following international best practices, this includes territorial rights, the right to self-determination, and the Indigenous right to say yes or no.
- Relationships must have integrity and be based on humility, respect, reciprocity, community empowerment, sharing, mutual learning, and sustained and long-term engagement. Our timelines are based on our values, processes, and social organization and should be respected.
- Processes must achieve clear communication, transparent decision-making, be inclusive, and be founded on the worldview of the Indigenous peoples that are impacted.
- Outcomes must be multi-faceted and oriented towards mutual benefits, a commitment towards the prevention of harm, and the enhancement of the well-being of Indigenous peoples based on their own definitions and criteria.
4. The Business Case for Respecting Community Rights
5. Company Actions in Response to Protest
7. Conclusions: Getting a Social License Requires Taking Community Concerns Seriously
- Hire sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified and experienced social performance staff who have community relations competencies and are adequately resourced;
- Implement a meaningful, inclusive, and ongoing stakeholder engagement process from the very beginning of the project;
- Be fair, act in good faith, and be perceived as being transparent, honest, and genuine;
- Treat communities with respect and fully respect their human rights;
- Understand and be respectful of local culture;
- Provide a valid justification for the project and for all major decisions that affect local communities;
- Be technically competent, be able to ensure safety and the avoidance of social and environmental harm, and be perceived as such;
- Deliver benefits to local communities by ensuring there are effective benefit sharing arrangements in place;
- Endeavour to empower communities by providing training and capacity building, having a local content policy, and by utilizing all opportunities to involve local communities in decision-making;
- Be part of the community, be vested in the community, and be seen as such;
- Act with full transparency and accountability by, for example, encouraging and supporting community-led monitoring and evaluation of potential impacts, mitigation measures, and the adequacy of benefit sharing programs;
- Ensure that the broad community support of local people is gained before proceeding with any project and that this support is maintained throughout the life of the project.
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|Adaptive management||Implement a company ethos and program of continuous improvement, monitoring, and adaptive management to rectify issues before they develop into bigger issues.|
|Adopt standards||Publicly announcing a company commitment to abide by an international or industry-based standard, such as the IFC Performance Standards, Equator Principles, GRI, Global Compact, or the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights .|
|Agreement making||See community development agreement.|
|Alternative dispute resolution||The use of methods to resolve conflict without resorting to litigation. Although it can be done by lawyers, it requires a different mindset and therefore tends to be done by neutral parties (also see mediation).|
|Alternative livelihood development||The process of assisting in the development of alternative livelihoods. Particularly where people are economically displaced by a project, assisting people to develop new livelihoods (also see economic diversification).|
|Apprenticeships||Establishment of an apprenticeship scheme to allow local people to develop the skills in order to get jobs with the project. This will lead to de-escalation in the long-run if proper labor conditions are observed, and it is perceived positively by local people.|
|Art||Various forms of support for art, including sponsoring cultural events and institutions (museums, art galleries, etc.), as well as support of local artists. Sometimes, the explicit use of art to create messages in support of the company or project.|
|Being genuine||See good faith actions.|
|Benefit sharing||A range of ways by which a project/company provides benefits to their host communities, including social investment and profit sharing.|
|Cancel or postpone the project||If opposition is strong and there is little hope of gaining a social license to operate, cancelling the project (or at least putting it on hold) may be the most appropriate thing a company should do. Companies do need to realize that some projects might actually be in the wrong place. In the face of protest, cancelling or postponing a project will lead to de-escalation of conflict between community and company, provided there are no legacy issues relating to earlier activities of the company.|
|Certification||The seeking of company certification/accreditation against an appropriate standard (e.g., ISO14001, Forest Stewardship Council) in an effort to improve a company’s image and/or rectify inadequate practice (also see audit, due diligence assessment).|
|Citizen’s jury||A deliberative technique where decision-making (perhaps about selecting the best alternative) is given to a small panel of lay people from the affected community. The jury is entrusted to deliberate on relevant issues on behalf of the project and community. Although a lay rather than expert panel, it is expected that the participants will learn about the relevant issues, ask questions from experts, and call for information as needed. Decisions made by citizen’s juries are likely to have greater legitimacy in the local community than decisions made by experts. Citizen juries will lead to de-escalation if the people on the jury are acceptable to the community.|
|Commitments register||A community commitments register is a public record of all promises made by the company or project to the local community at all stages in project development. It records and tracks what was promised, when the promise was made, who made it, what was agreed in relation to fulfilling the promise, progress on fulfilling the promise, and the ultimate outcome.|
|Community activities||Participate in community activities, festivals, and events, not only as a sponsor, but by having a real presence in order to be seen as being part of the community.|
|Community consultative committee||Establish a community consultative committee (also known as a community liaison committee). These committees are representative forums that are empowered to make decisions about the project. These committees will lead to de-escalation provided that the representatives are acceptable to the community and their opinions are actually considered by the company.|
|Community development agreement||Negotiate an agreement with the local community in which the company agrees to provide a considerable amount of social investment to the community. An agreement will lead to de-escalation, if the agreement is fair and was developed in conjunction with the community.|
|Community development fund||Establish a social investment fund that is managed by an independent group of community members (also see benefit sharing).|
|Community engagement||Establish a plan and program of engaging with the local community. Similar to stakeholder engagement, this refers specifically to local communities (also see listening spaces, open houses).|
|Community liaison officer (community relations staff)||Appoint qualified and experienced staff who are good at building effective relationships with local communities and other stakeholders. If these staff are competent, and preferably if they are from the local community, this will lead to de-escalation.|
|Community visioning process||Visioning is a process of developing consensus around the future the community wants, and then deciding what is needed to achieve the shared vision. Companies/projects can assist their host communities in planning a vision and in showing how the project is consistent with their vision. Provided that the community does not feel manipulated by the process, this will lead to de-escalation.|
|Community-based impact assessments||Support (i.e., finance) the affected community so that they can undertake (or at least commission) their own environmental and social impact assessments in order to be fully informed about the project. In having the community undertake their own assessments, the legitimacy/credibility of the information is not disputed, which will build trust in the project.|
|Contracting strategy and ongoing management of suppliers||With companies expected to manage human rights issues throughout the whole supply chain, they need to ensure that all contractors and subcontractors observe ESG principles. This is done by having a contracting strategy and implementing ESG clauses in tender documents, contracts, and performance specifications (also see responsible sourcing).|
|Demonstrate real commitment to the community||Communities often feel, rightly or wrongly, that companies are not always fully committed. A social license to operate is only fully achieved when the affected communities trust that the company is really vested in the community (also see skin in the game).|
|Dialogue table||Establishing a stakeholder panel or community consultative committee (or other deliberative mechanism) with key stakeholders in order to reach a mutually-acceptable agreement (also see citizen’s jury, negotiate).|
|Dismissal (and disciplining) (as a positive reaction)||The firing/sacking (or disciplining) of those staff responsible for the actions that created local social impacts or distress. If a company is serious about its community relations, respect for the community must be embedded throughout and enforced in all operations (compare with dismissal of staff as a negative reaction).|
|Economic diversification||This refers to strategies to assist local communities to become economically diverse and less dependent on the project. This minimizes the consequences of project slowdown or closure on local communities. It is also a way that the project interacts with local communities.|
|Establish a commission or taskforce||Publicly announcing the establishment of an external commission or internal working group of independent experts or neutral parties in order to address protester claims. This will be effective if the report is made public and the findings acted upon (also see hire consultant).|
|Fieldtrips||Take company staff and/or community members on site visits to other locations so that they can experience what happened in other contexts.|
|Form partnerships||Establishing a partnership with the government, local consultancy firms, NGOs, and/or affected communities in order to address the issues of concern.|
|Free, prior and informed consent||Commit to seeking free, prior and informed consent from all communities affected by the company projects or operations.|
|Good corporate citizen and/or good neighbor policies and actions||Good corporate citizen and good neighbor are forms of corporate social responsibility in which companies adopt policies and practices to reflect their commitment to local communities (in the case of good neighbor) or to ESG principles (in the case of good corporate citizen). Good neighbor programs tend to promote staff volunteerism in community organizations, as well as corporate philanthropy.|
|Good faith actions (acting in good faith)||“Acting in good faith” means being genuine, fair, open, and honest. As a corporate commitment or value, a company might attempt to ensure all its actions were done in good faith. While such a policy could be publicly announced, it is important for companies to realize that actions speak louder than words and that local communities will judge them on what they experience, not on what companies say they do.|
|Grievance redress mechanism||The implementation of effective mechanisms to receive, consider, and respond to the concerns of local people about a project. If acted upon, this will lead to de-escalation.|
|Health promotion activities||Community and workplace health promotion are key areas where company support is highly desirable. While not an appropriate response immediately following a protest, company/project participation in health promotion activities can do much to improve the wellbeing of local people and, when not done in draconian ways, demonstrate the company’s interest in the community.|
|Hire local workforce||Creating employment opportunities for local people. It is important to have a proper local content hiring strategy and to provide opportunities for local people to be able to achieve higher management positions.|
|Human rights impact assessment||See due diligence assessment.|
|Impacts and benefits agreement||See community development agreement.|
|Independent experts||The use of leading persons, usually external to the community, who are known for their integrity, independence, and ability to adjudicate fairly between the company and local community or to advise on matters of key concern. If the experts are considered to be acceptable to the community, this will lead to de-escalation (also see hire consultants, neutral parties).|
|Industry response||A collective way of making a formal response or of saying sorry in relation to a particular issue that affects many companies in an industry or sector (also see participate in industry initiatives).|
|Justify||Provide adequate justification for all actions and arrangements. The decisions of companies (e.g., who is resettled and who is not and/or relating to compensation payments) often lead to disagreement and conflict within a community. It is very important that the company provides a clear rationale (justification) for its actions and decisions.|
|Knowing and showing||An expression made famous by John Ruggie, author of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Ruggie argued that companies should be aware of (know) their human rights obligations and impacts and demonstrate (show) that they take addressing human rights issues seriously. The expression was positioned in contradistinction to the NGO protest strategy of “naming and shaming”.|
|Lead by example||One way to assuage community concerns is for the company to lead by (personal) example. This could take many forms, but usually is about demonstrating that the company and its staff are in the same situation as the affected community. For example, company staff could live in the same type of housing as that provided to resettled people; they should drink the same water as the community; or the company offices could be located close to the high voltage powerlines, or whatever was this issue of concern (also see demonstrate real commitment, skin in the game).|
|Listening spaces||A type of community engagement technique in which a venue is provided as a safe place for local people to provide their honest feedback about how they feel about a particular issue (also see grievance redress mechanism).|
|Local content (or local employment)||Local content refers to the requirement, expectation, or commitment of a company to ensure that value is retained locally through employment (ensuring jobs for local people) and/or by local procurement. Simplistically, it is the percentage of project spending spent on employment of local people or on local goods and services, where local is defined as national. At a more sophisticated level, local content is a philosophy of ensuring local benefits by having a carefully developed local content strategy. Ideally, “local” should be defined as the surrounding region (or even local communities) rather than as simply national (also see benefit sharing).|
|Local procurement||A form of benefit sharing that entails the deliberate setting of company policies and enabling strategies to procure goods and services from local suppliers so as to enhance the benefits of the project to the local community.|
|Mainstreaming (social/community)||Mainstreaming is a term that potentially can be applied to many concepts (e.g., gender, human rights), but essentially it means fully integrating the issue throughout the company and operations rather than treating it as special or separate. To get a social license to operate, companies should mainstream social issues and community concerns fully throughout their operations.|
|Mediation||The use of expert mediators, facilitators or neutral parties to reach an agreement (also see alternative dispute resolution).|
|Mentorship||Establish a program of mentoring (capacity building) local people (also see apprenticeships).|
|Mitigation||Develop and implement measures to avoid or mitigate the negative impacts of operations.|
|Monitoring (external)||Implement a community-based monitoring process of social and environmental issues. Being community-based increases the legitimacy of the monitoring process and increases trust in the company, which enhances its social license to operate.|
|Monitoring (internal)||Monitoring company projects and operations to ensure they are compliant with adopted policies and/or that any commitments made with the community are fulfilled (also see audit, due diligence assessment).|
|Negotiate||Engaging in direct negotiation with protesters to reach an agreement (also see dialogue table).|
|Neutral parties||The use of independent experts or organizations who can act as a go-between to assist in communication and mediation between companies and communities (also see mediation).|
|Open house||An open house (sometimes called an information center or shopfront) refers to any kind of display, setting, or venue where local people can peruse information provided, perhaps discuss things with an attendant (preferably a local employee), and potentially leave their comments (either in writing on paper or via computer) in a visitor’s book (i.e., public), in a comments box (i.e., private), as post-it notes, or writing on an “add your comment here” wall. Exhibitions, models, videos, and virtual reality can be used to provide visitors with images of what the project will look like when finished. The open house can be a house or store or it can be a caravan or bus parked where people have ready access, such as in the main street or city square. It could also be a stall at a community market or perhaps just a panel/pin board in a supermarket (also see community engagement).|
|Participate in industry initiatives||Participate in sector-wide initiatives to improve common practice and/or to develop industry standards (also see industry response).|
|Philanthropy||Undertaking philanthropic initiatives such as donating funds to the community or to philanthropic organizations (also see social investment, community development fund).|
|Policy statements||The drafting, approval, and implementation of internal and/or external policies for ensuring compliance with different issues, such as local procurement and human rights, as an attempt to improve the relationship with local communities and avoid protests.|
|Profit sharing||A form of benefit sharing in which the company allocates a percentage share of the profits from the project to the local community (also see social investment).|
|Responsible sourcing||Responsible sourcing (or supply chain responsibility) is the commitment by companies to take ESG considerations into account when managing their relationships with suppliers. It entails a range of actions, including having a contracting strategy.|
|Risk management||Implementing procedures within the company/project to consider all risks fully and the implementation of actions to manage the risks actively. If done well and when social risks are fully considered, this will lead to de-escalation.|
|Saying sorry||A formal act of publicly apologizing for wrongs that have been perpetrated, whether by the company or not. It would typically be done verbally in an appropriate setting, but could also be in the form of a formal statement.|
|Site visits||See fieldtrips.|
|Skin in the game||Having “skin in the game” is an expression used in business, finance, and politics where it means something like “putting one’s money where one’s mouth is”, in other words, in the context of a social license to operate, the company needs to have real commitment, a vested interest, not only in the project, but also in the community. Companies need to show they are truly invested in the community and that there is an alignment between the local community and their own interests.|
|Social investment||This refers to project contributions to local development, usually by funding social projects that contribute to local development outcomes (also see community development agreement).|
|Social license to operate||Commit to going beyond legal compliance and aim to obtain a social license to operate from communities impacted by a company project or operations.|
|Sponsorships||Establish a scheme to provide support to local associations (also see community development fund, social investment).|
|Staff resignation||The public resignation of a key staff member as a response to the protest action and as an acknowledgement of misdoing, with the intention of deflecting blame away from the company (also see dismissal of staff).|
|Staff volunteering||A form of good neighbor scheme in which a company encourages and supports staff to participate in local NGOs and community activities.|
|Stakeholder engagement/management||Establish a stakeholder engagement plan and a systematic approach for engaging all stakeholders. Use a range of engagement techniques including the use of community consultative committees. (also see community engagement)|
|Stakeholder panel||See dialogue table and community consultative committee.|
|Sustainability reporting||The process by which companies understand, communicate, and better manage their non-financial impacts and ESG issues. The Global Reporting Initiative is a standard intended to promote better practice in sustainability reporting. If done properly and not seen as greenwashing, this will lead to de-escalation.|
|Training (community capacity building)||The provision of training to community members to assist them to develop appropriate skills. Apart from technical training so that local people can get jobs with the project, this could include negotiating skills so that affected people could negotiate more effectively and therefore ensure a win-win-win outcome. In projects entailing the resettlement of people and/or economic displacement, training associated with alternative livelihoods may be necessary.|
|Training (internal capacity building)||The provision of training to staff about various issues, such as human rights or inter-cultural competencies, in an attempt to improve the relationship with local communities and to address the issues raised in community grievances (also see endomarketing).|
|Transparency||The company should fully disclose its plans through an effective community engagement strategy (also see justify). Ideally, it should also seek community input. A company policy of transparency would be helpful in being seen to be genuine (also see being genuine, good faith actions).|
|Webinar||A webinar is an online seminar, typically in the form of a presentation with input (at least Q&A) from participants. Done as an internal activity of staff training, it could create awareness of an issue. Hypothetically, it could also be done with external stakeholders to build reputation (knowing and showing). However, it would not be effective with aggrieved local communities as they would normally expect in-person meetings.|
|Assassination||The killing of protest leaders to silence them and/or as a threat to others and thus discouraging them from further partaking in protest activities (also see intimidation, threats, violence).|
|Astroturfing||Sometimes erroneously spelt as astrosurfing, this is a form of deceit in which companies forge grassroots support in favor of a particular issue. It is interesting to note that Astroturf was originally a form of artificial grass.|
|Blacklisting||The act of punishing trade unions, community organizations, local suppliers, and/or individuals by withholding previous entitlements and/or refusing to utilize their services.|
|Bloody-mindedness||The act of deliberately making it hard or difficult for no good reason. For example, when ordered by a government agency or court to do something, a company might comply with the requirement, but in a way that makes it very hard for the community to achieve what was actually intended (also see gaming the system).|
|Bluewashing||The use of endorsements or logos from various international institutions (especially United Nations organizations, which use the color blue) to promote an image of adherence to best practice that is not deserved (also see greenwashing, redwashing, misrepresentation).|
|Bribery||Bribing government officials, protest leaders, and/or the media, for example to suppress or subvert the protests, or in the case of the media, to misreport the issue and/or the number of protesters.|
|Call in the army||An expression that could literally mean to call in the army, meaning that a military or security presence might be desired by the company to restore peace and calm or to suppress the protest; however, as an ironic or sarcastic response, it can refer to any excessive or over-the-top reaction (also see increase security).|
|Censorship||Overt attempts to prevent the publication/dissemination of commentary about the project or company. This could be in the form of prohibitions on employees from making public comment, the taking of legal action against anyone making comment perceived as being against the company’s interests, getting politicians to enact regulations to prohibit comment on an issue, or bribing the media to suppress comment (also see bribery, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP)).|
|Co-opting governments and/or political parties||Donations to political campaigns to win support from politicians so that they act in favor of company interests (also see bribery).|
|Co-opting local people||Hiring local people in order to silence them and/or to give an impression of caring, but with no real intention to make a fundamental change to operations.|
|Co-opting media||Buying advertising from key media outlets so that the media becomes dependent on the income from the company and thus reluctant to make critical comment (also see bribery, censorship).|
|Co-opting researchers||Providing research grants or consultancies to researchers (academics) so that they become silenced by virtue of having a vested interest, a conflict of interest, or because they have signed a confidentiality agreement. Potentially, they might also learn more about the situation and therefore change their perspective.|
|Counter actions||Comprises a wide range of activities intended to thwart protest actions, including counter ad busting, websites to counter protest websites, counter advertising, etc. Most likely, these actions will be ineffective and, if perceived to be devious, will lead to escalation.|
|Criminalization||The act of turning an activity (protest) into a criminal offense by making it illegal and/or active persecution (criminal prosecution) of protesters (also see discrediting, SLAPP, threats).|
|Deception (deceit)||The deliberate intention to deceive, i.e., promising things to regulatory bodies or the affected community with no intention to deliver on them. Deception can take many forms, including deliberate overpromise and the falsification of information.|
|Delay tactics||pursue actions that result in delay, for example in the making of payments to the community, or in legal action against the company, potentially dragging it out for years, in order to increase the costs to the party taking action against the company (e.g., affected community, NGO, government) with the expectation that they will withdraw the action and/or until such time as a more favorable outcome to the legal action can be secured.|
|Dig-in; or dig one’s heels in||In this context, this means that the company will not budge, and it will prepare for battle. Instead of responding to community expectations, the company will resist and only do that which it is legally obligated to do (also see bloody-mindedness, stick to the minimum).|
|Discrediting||The attempt to discredit and de-legitimize a key protester strategically (and thus the protest action) by spreading true or false rumors about them that would harm their reputation.|
|Dismissal (of staff) (as a negative reaction)||The firing/sacking of staff who support the protest cause (or the threat thereof) (compare with dismissal of staff as a positive reaction; also see enforce loyalty).|
|Disruption of services||Although normally a protest tactic, companies can also disrupt the services they provide to the community in order to intimidate a local community and/or discredit protestors (also see intimidation, violence).|
|Diversionary tactics||A wide range of actions intended to divert attention away from the issues of concern to communities (also see counter actions, misrepresentation, smokescreen, trolling).|
|Divide and conquer||A strategy of negotiating with communities or subgroups within them on a one-by-one basis with the objective or outcome of creating unequal results and/or conflict. While sometimes a deliberate strategy to set one group against another, it can also happen inadvertently, e.g., confidentiality agreements may lead to speculation that other groups have a better deal.|
|Enforce loyalty||Some companies have strict policies that require employees to conform to the company position (toe the company line) in a bid to discourage internal dissent. While this can be important regarding occupational health and safety matters, as well as the prevention of corruption and respecting local communities, when such enforcement inhibits staff from speaking out about the poor practices of companies, it is likely to lead to the perpetuation of those practices.|
|Eviction (or threat of eviction)||Eviction or threat of eviction can take several forms, including: evicting protestors from protest camps in the project area; evicting community members from company-provided houses in the project area; and evicting staff from their company-provided housing (e.g., if they have been disloyal to the company) (also see deception).|
|Exploit loopholes||See gaming the system.|
|Fake news||The deliberate spreading of misleading information as news in an attempt to influence public opinion. The immediate outcome will depend on how this is perceived in the short term, but it will lead to escalation in the long term, because such actions will lead to the company developing a reputation for being dishonest and not being genuine (also see deception).|
|False/fake advertising||The deliberate use of false or misleading information in advertising (also see deception).|
|Falsification||The distortion of data or records (also see deception).|
|Fronting||A form of deception or misrepresentation (a façade) in which something purports to be other than it really is. For example, sometimes, foreign companies establish local branches in an attempt to masquerade as a local company in order to circumvent local content rules (also see gaming the system).|
|Gaming the system||This refers to manipulating the rules of the game. In this context, it refers to the devious actions companies use to find ways around agreements, contracts, legislation, and regulation, e.g., by exploiting loopholes in the precise wording (also see bloody-mindedness).|
|Greenwashing||The use of propaganda and other promotional activities to create an image of environmental responsibility (green) when it is not deserved (also see misrepresentation).|
|Ignore||Ignore the issues of protest, whether strategically (on a considered basis) or inadvertently.|
|Incite violence||A company might decide to act in ways so that the level of violence will increase, prompting the media, government, and/or police/army to take action against the protesters and/or in order to influence public opinion about the company, perhaps as being besieged by a violent mob. Violence can be incited in various ways, including by infiltrating the protest movement, provoking, taunting or baiting the protesters, disruption of services, or creating a counter movement (also see deception, infiltration, misrepresentation, rent-a-crowd).|
|Increase security||The deployment of additional security forces, stronger fences, dog patrols, etc., in order to secure a particular site (also see call in the army).|
|Infiltration, espionage, spying||The use of informants or spies or hacking in order to get information for the company and/or to disrupt protest events.|
|Influence the discourse||Exert pressure (e.g., on the media) so that the reporting of community protests is described in distorted ways, e.g., as radical action, or anti-development action, or as only action of a militant few rather than being widespread (also see co-opting media, misrepresentation).|
|Intimidation||Any action that seeks to influence the behavior of a person or organization in relation to the protest (also see SLAPP, violence, harassment, and intimidation).|
|Investor-state dispute||Investor-state disputes are situations where a corporation sues a national government, e.g., for implementing a change in law that would likely affect the profit of the company.|
|Jurisdiction shopping||The practice of companies searching for and moving to (or at least threatening to) locations where they receive favorable arrangements. Footloose companies who can engage in this practice tend not to have long-term commitment to where they are located, and should local requirements or expectations increase, they simply move to another location.|
|Legal action||Companies can initiate any of a wide range of possible legal actions, including suing protesters, initiating court action to establish that the protest action is illegal, and enlisting the support of the police to evict or arrest protesters (also see SLAPP).|
|Lobby||Using political lobbying to influence policy-makers towards the company’s interests.|
|Manipulate public opinion||Manipulating public opinion by commissioning bogus reports, engaging celebrities to speak on behalf of the company (celebrity endorsement), discrediting protestors and/or the protest cause, etc. (also see misrepresentation).|
|Media stunt||See publicity stunt.|
|Misrepresentation||the deliberate or perhaps accidental distortion of information in order to create a more favorable image of the company or project (also see deception, falsification, bluewashing, greenwashing, redwashing, manipulate public opinion)|
|Muckraking||The process of collecting (and potentially creating) information that would be harmful to opponents, in this case the protest leaders (also see smear campaign, trolling).|
|Overpromise||The deliberate or accidental overstatement of the benefits the project is likely to bring (also see deception, misrepresentation).|
|Political maneuvering||The act of deviously influencing the process by exerting undue influence on political leaders.|
|Redwashing||Similar to greenwashing, but with respect to social and community issues rather than green issues. In other words, the use of promotional activities to promote an image of the company as being socially responsible, when this is not deserved (also see misrepresentation).|
|Rent-a-crowd||The hiring of people to create a counter protest group, e.g., as a way to demonstrate to politicians, the media, or to local people that there is divided opinion or support for the project in the community (also see counter actions, divide-and-conquer).|
|Repression||Refers to any heavy-handed action intended to suppress protest, critical comment, or dissent.|
|Retaliation||Any regressive act in response to community action, including threats, intimidation, and violence. The IFC has a position statement on retaliation against civil society and project stakeholders that prohibits all retaliatory action by its clients.|
|Shortcutting||Taking shortcuts refers to finding a quicker way to complete an objective, but it also generally means not doing this properly or not fully complying with the expected process.|
|Silencing opponents||This includes a wide range of actions in the attempt to stifle the public statements of opponents of the company or project, including extreme actions such as assassination, censorship, legal action (including SLAPP), co-opting, intimidation, violence.|
|SLAPP||A form of intimidation involving the use or threat of “strategic lawsuits against public participation”, i.e., legal action against protest leaders as a way of stopping protest.|
|Smear campaign||The attempt to discredit a protest cause by deliberating initiating and/or spreading rumors about the campaign and/or its leaders (also see discrediting, trolling).|
|Smokescreen||A ruse devised to conceal intentions or activities, a diversionary tactic (also see deception, misrepresentation, trolling).|
|Stack the deck||An expression that, in this context, means to manipulate the appointment of people to a committee, such as a government inquiry or the community consultative committee, in order to ensure an outcome favorable to the company’s position.|
|Stalling||Any action that enables the company to avoid taking action in response to the reason for the protest (also see delay tactics, turnstile).|
|Stick to the minimum||A strategy of only doing the legally-prescribed or regulated requirements.|
|Suspend payments or entitlements||The strategic suspension of financial transfers to affected communities as an attempt to repress protest action.|
|Threats||Threats of judicial action or other forms of coercion against protest leaders to get them to halt further protest action (also see intimidation, violence).|
|Town hall meeting||This refers to any organized public gathering normally intended to involve large numbers of people (although they are frequently poorly attended) and typically held in public buildings (such as the town hall) with authority figures at the head of the room and attendees in theatre-style seating. The intended mode of communication is one-way, top-down information dissemination, moderated by a chairperson, perhaps with a question-and-answer session. Despite being ineffective from a community engagement perspective, they are often used because they are inexpensive and easy to organize. They are undesirable because: they do not enable deliberation; they reinforce existing hierarchies; they favor extroverts and people comfortable with public speaking; in conflict situations or where there is a high level of emotion, they may exacerbate conflict or people’s negative feelings; they only enable a small number of people to have a say; people who get to have a say are rarely satisfied that their comments have been acknowledged or valued; people who did not get to have a say are left dissatisfied; and information collected is not useful because it lacks representativeness.|
|Trolling||Trolling is the online process of creating inflammatory comment, usually with the intention of diverting attention away from one topic towards others (also see diversionary tactics, smokescreen).|
|Turnstile||A strategy of constantly changing the company’s community representative so that chaos and confusion reign and to ensure that negotiations keep going back to square one (also see delay tactics, stalling).|
|Victim playing||The act of depicting the company as a victim (or the belief that the company is the victim) held hostage to the excessive demands of opportunist communities. This sentiment is often widely held by project staff, alongside the sentiment that a company is “mother”, the provider of all things in the community . This strategy will likely lead to escalation, because it will annoy host communities (or at least some people) who regard their demands as legitimate.|
|Violence, harassment, and intimidation||Initiating a campaign of terror using the military, police, or a private security firm as instruments of terror and oppression. Could potentially include assassination of, or violence against, community leaders, or the threat thereof.|
|Violent reprisal or repression||The use of police and/or private security forces against protesters in a bid to quell the protest action.|
|Advertise||The use of paid advertisements in conventional media (TV, Internet, print media, billboards) or a social media campaign to refute protester claims and accusations, and/or to promote the benefits provided by the project.||The outcome will depend on the content of the advertisements and how this is perceived by local communities. In a conflict situation, advertising will likely lead to escalation.|
|Advocacy||Publicly support a certain cause in order to win public opinion.||The outcome will depend on the cause in question, how the company frames its message, and whether the company is perceived as genuine by the affected communities.|
|Audiences||Having audiences with the minister, community leaders, or other public figures (e.g., the Pope) with the intention of influencing a decision or perception, or to gain publicity, or both.||The outcome will depend on the community perception of the public figure and what happens as a result of the meeting. Most likely it will be seen as a hollow gesture or publicity stunt.|
|Audit||Commission an audit of company activities to establish whether project sites are compliant with company expectations (also see due diligence assessment).||The outcome will depend on how the information gathered is used and whether or not the reports are made public. If nothing is done as a result of the report, there will be escalation.|
|Awards||The use of new or existing awards/prizes in order to either: (1) gain reputational value and/or to deflect attention away from the negative concerns generated by community protest; or (2) recognize certain particular people in the community and thereby change local social dynamics or public perception of the protest.||The action could lead to escalation or de-escalation depending on how the awards are perceived by local people. If seen as greenwashing, it will contribute to escalation.|
|Baseline survey||The process of collecting data for a set of selected indicators to track change over time. The baseline data are reference points against which, together with targets and benchmark values, future situations are compared.||How this is perceived will depend on how the information is used, whether there is improvement or worsening over time, whether the appropriate impacts are being measured, and whether the community trusts the monitoring process and data collection.|
|Benchmarking||Benchmarking is the process of comparing a project or activity with other projects, usually with the intention of learning or improving. It can take place at multiple levels, e.g., at the project level, company level, or at an industry scale.||In general, benchmarking is an appropriate action for companies to take, but if no action is taken to improve performance, this may lead to escalation.|
|Buying-off key figures||Buying-off refers to making payments (or providing other benefits) to opinion leaders such as prominent businessmen, traditional leaders, or religious leaders in return for their support of the project (also see bribery, co-opting).||The outcome of a buying-off strategy will depend on the community perception of this. If deemed to be corruption, it will result in escalation.|
|Buying-off the community||The transferring of funds to protesting communities in an attempt to satisfy community demands and compensate impacts (also see benefit sharing, social investment, community development fund, negotiate).||If done cynically with no interest in addressing fundamental issues, there will be escalation. However, negotiating a community development agreement will likely lead to de-escalation.|
|Celebrity endorsement||The use of celebrities to endorse the project or company.||The outcome of this will depend on the community perception of the celebrity and the message.|
|Community perception surveys||Companies can pro-actively undertake surveys of community perceptions or concerns or do this in response to community protest (also see baseline survey, benchmarking, monitoring).||Although generally this information is appropriate, if nothing is done with it, there will be escalation. Community support for the survey will be needed.|
|Compliance Assessment||See audit and due diligence assessment.||The outcome will depend on what follow-up action is taken. Ideally, assessments should be made public.|
|Confidentiality agreement||Many companies require signed confidentiality agreements from parties they do business with, especially consultants. Companies might also insist on confidentiality agreements with communities following the signing of an impacts and benefits agreement or community development agreement.||While a community might be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement, there is a view that such agreements should be public, e.g., https://www.pwyp.org/.|
|Corporate social responsibility||A company can develop, implement, and advertise its corporate social responsibility policy and strategy.||The outcome will depend on the content of the policy, and how effectively it is implemented.|
|Cutting a deal to avoid prosecution||This involves negotiating with the prosecutor and/or affected parties to secure an arrangement where prosecution of the company is postponed and/or avoided while the company addresses a problem it has caused.||In terms of conflict, the outcome will depend on the deal, how it is perceived by the community, and what else the company does.|
|Doing deals||The process of negotiating with community leaders or influential persons to win their support. The expression does not intend to infer bribery (illicit cash payments), but to the potential provision by the company of a range of items or actions the community wants or might be of benefit to the community and/or the persons being negotiated with (also see buying-off, community development agreement).||The outcome will depend on how this is perceived by the local community and whether or not the terms of the deal are honored.|
|Due diligence assessment||In general terms, this refers to conducting an investigation into the likely possible risks of an activity or business partner. In the context of company-community relations (and following the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights , it is now expected that corporate headquarters should conduct regular assessments of all their various projects. Due diligence seeks to identify the risks, whereas as an audit is an analysis of performance against a set target (standard or requirement).||Depends on how effectively the assessment is done, whether the assessment has legitimacy, and what is done with the information.|
|Economic blackmail (or environmental blackmail)||A strategy by which companies exert pressure on a community to accept a project that causes environmental or social harm in exchange for jobs or development opportunities (compare with community development agreement, negotiate).||The outcome will depend on the exact circumstances and extent of benefits to the community, but is likely to lead to escalation in the long term because of the lack of a social license to operate (as implied by the wording “exert pressure” and blackmail).|
|Educational materials||The development and provision of educational materials for teachers and/or students. Apart from branding opportunities, it is a chance to give the company’s perspective.||Depends on the content and how it is perceived. It may be perceived positively locally, but could lead to international concern.|
|Endomarketing||A business management concept of internal marketing. The idea behind this concept is to increase the commitment of employees to the company (also see enforce loyalty).||The outcome will depend on the message. However, if intended positively, in conjunction with other positive actions, it will likely lead to de-escalation.|
|Formal statement||The issuing by the company of an official statement or speech addressing the issues identified by the protesters.||Depends on the nature of the statement and how it is perceived by the protesters.|
|Funding scientific research||The company/project may attempt to resolve conflict by commissioning or undertaking research into the facts of the situation. When this is a genuine attempt to understand, it may be helpful. However, if done as a devious attempt to buy a particular finding, it will almost certainly fail (also see co-opting researchers).||Unclear; depends on the perceived legitimacy of the research and the independence of the people undertaking the research.|
|Gift giving||The strategic giving of gifts to appropriate people or organizations in order to win favor (also see buying-off, bribery, co-opting, win favor).||Depends on how it is perceived. If regarded as a bribe, this strategy would backfire. If deemed an appropriate show of respect, it would be beneficial.|
|Hire consultant||The use of a consultant to consider what to do. Skilled consultants will suggest useful actions, which may or may not be adopted by the company. Sometimes, the use of a consultant is just to solve internal disputes. Sometimes, the hiring of a consultant is publicly announced as a form of publicity stunt (also see establish a commission or taskforce, independent experts).||Depends on the competence of the consultant and how their advice is utilized by the company.|
|Information materials||The production and dissemination of various informational materials, e.g., flyers, brochures, websites, banners, billboards (also see overpromise, misrepresentation, greenwashing).||Depends on content and context and whether it is a fair representation.|
|In-reach||The process of communicating with internal stakeholders (also see endomarketing).||Depends on the content.|
|Marketing||The actions used by a company to create a better public image/reputation (also see advertise).||Depends on how the marketing activities are perceived.|
|Media briefing||Briefing media outlets to communicate the company’s position.||Depends on what the media reports and how that is perceived.|
|Memes||Although the use of memes is a device used by protesters to mock companies or projects, they can also be used in an attempt to discredit protesters or protest causes.||Unclear, but probably escalation.|
|Promotional products||The production and distribution of corporate trinkets, minor gifts, and other materials emblazoned with the company logo and/or by-line. These materials can be for use by staff or can be given to community members or participants in company-sponsored workshops, etc. They include things like pens, USB sticks, t-shirts, sweaters, caps, mugs, bumper stickers, badges, backpacks, school uniforms, lunch-boxes, etc.||Likely to cause escalation if the community feels the company is non-genuine.|
|Provide information||Organizing informational events and/or promotional material to address protesters’ claims (also see open house).||Depends on how it is utilized.|
|Public endorsement||Companies can make a public statement of support of a cause, for example by signing up to an international standard or by aligning with an international or local NGO.||Depends on how it is perceived.|
|Publicity materials and other corporate publications||The production and distribution (online at least) of information about the company/project and its activities.||Depends on the perceived credibility of the stories.|
|Publicity stunt||A planned event, usually exaggerated or dishonest, intended to attract media (public) attention to a company, event, or cause.||Likely to lead to perceived negatively.|
|Reports||Commissioning reports about the issue underlying the protest (with or without dictating the findings).||Depends on the public perception of the underlying research.|
|Signing up||The public endorsement of an international or national declaration or code of conduct.||Depends on the public perception of the cause in question.|
|Sloganeering||The use of slogans of various types (e.g., mission statements, by-lines, catchphrases) and in various forms of media to promote awareness of the company’s commitment to good practice.||Depends on how perceived by the community.|
|Social media campaign||The use of social media (Facebook posts, blogging) to express the company’s position about a contentious issue and/or engage with protesters.||Depends on the message and how it is perceived.|
|Surveys||See community perception surveys.||Unclear, depends on what is done with the information collected.|
|War room||The summoning of all staff related to the issue to discuss strategies and actions to deal with the situation.||Depends on the strategies and actions that are adopted. However, use of the language “war room” is likely to lead to actions that escalate conflict.|
|Website||Creating a specific website to counter protest claims or to establish dialogue with the affected community.||Depends on how it is used.|
|Win favor||A range of actions (including gift giving, sponsorship, paying for lunch at community meetings, or restaurant dinners) intended to influence the perception of key opinion leaders (also see buying-off, co-opting).||If excessive, attempts to win favor are likely to lead to a negative outcome, but if modest, it might be regarded as expected or reasonable hospitality. However, beneficiaries of these gestures are likely to have a different opinion to non-beneficiaries.|
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