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Mining companies around the world increasingly require formal permission and informed consent of local communities to access mineral resources. Community-level permission is often sought in the form of benefit agreements (BAs): documents that stipulate how mining companies will compensate local communities for the environmental and social costs of a mineral development project as well as share in the economic benefits.
Many developing countries neither reap fair benefits from their natural resource wealth nor translate it into poverty reduction or capacity enhancement. This outcome results in part from the absence of effective agreements between communities and resource developers, and of adequate post-agreement implementation and monitoring.
Over the past 15 years, the use of BAs has expanded from an initial implementation in Australia and Canada to an international practice that is being adopted by governments around the world in regulatory requirements for oil, gas and mining projects. Canada has become an early hub of knowledge and experience in the developing field of BAs, and is generally seen as having notable success with the BA process – a 2010 analysis assessed the effectiveness of 14 BAs signed between 1996 and 2007 across three northern-Canadian diamond mines and found the BAs to be generally meeting their objectives, especially with respect to the delivery of benefits.
This project will work with specific case-study communities to improve understanding of the BA process and develop tools for improved BA formulation and implementation. While there will be a direct positive impact on the case-study communities, the findings will also be broadly applicable across mining communities and will be disseminated beyond the studied communities. In addition, the project will target some of the weak links in the global practice of BA negotiation, implementation, and monitoring, producing a globally-relevant database, handbook, and analysis. The project will leverage the experience and knowledge of a leading group of scholars and practitioners who have worked on benefit agreements around the world so as to maximize impact per dollar spent.
This project is global in scope. As the application of BAs – and the experience with them – varies across countries, the project has selected a handful of countries within which to operate and carry out targeted research and knowledge dissemination. These countries have been identified based on need as well as to generate enough differences across jurisdictions so as to work towards a training module and build out a diverse community of practice. In addition, the project is creating globally-relevant products that can be applied wherever BAs exist.
Governance / Human Rights
This project aims to provide tools to improve both the BA formulation and implementation process such that developing nations can benefit more from resource extraction taking place within their borders and translate the resource extraction into a reduction in poverty in the affected communities. Capacity creation is the key link from the project activities to poverty reduction, through new knowledge creation and dissemination applied to particular countries and communities with a view towards improving global best practice. The project’s activities will also align to expectations outlined in Canada’s Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.
The project will harness and disseminate knowledge on best practice BAs through strong partnerships with mining communities, academics, industry actors and technical experts. Cumulatively, the project envisions a future where extractive sector projects in developing countries are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
Enable communities in developing countries with extractive dependent economies to benefit from their resources and reduce poverty through improved negotiation and implementation of mining sector benefit agreements.
Download the report: Ahafo.community.agreement.2018