Enhancing International Capacity for Benefit Agreement Implementation


Ghana, Dominican Republic, Australia, Canada, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Haiti, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone

Focus Area

Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement





sustainable development goals


$ 231,798 CAD


Global Affairs Canada

Who Benefits

Primary beneficiaries of the project include:

  • The national and sub-national governments of mineral dependent developing countries grappling with the challenge of how to intermediate the interests of companies, communities and the nation as a whole;
  • Local stakeholders and mining-affected communities that are currently or potentially signatories to BAs;
  • Community leaders, government, experts, consultants, and mining companies, to enhance the dissemination of best practices.

Delivery Partners


  • Tom Gunton, SFU, Environment
  • Andy Hira, SFU, Political Science
  • Jordon Kuschminder, Independent Social Performance
  • Sean Markey, SFU, Centre for Sustainable Community Development
  • Sam Szoke-Burke, Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment (CCSI)
  • Perinne Toledano, CCSI
  • Eric Werker, SFU, Business

The Challenge

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.


Project details

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 was 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 created globally-relevant products that can be applied wherever BAs exist.


Cross-cutting themes

Gender Equality

  • Core activities of this project identified and engaged with male and female stakeholders in order to gain a full range of community perspectives, and ensured equal participation and benefit in training and advising activities.

Environmental responsibility

  • Environmental protection is a direct output of an effective BA process, preventing resource overexploitation and the degradation of land, water and ecological resources. By targeting the BA process, this project generated new knowledge on how to create and execute effective BAs. It provided national governments and communities with the resources they needed to effectively advocate for their interests throughout the BA process, be it economic, social, or environmental.

Governance & Human Rights

  • This project provided the much-needed expertise and guidance to complement BA practices by working with stakeholders to ensure that BAs provide positive outcomes to agreement signatories and developing nations as a whole. The project was managed in a transparent and accountable way, and ensured the utmost respect and collaboration with country partners, in line with international human rights norms, standards, guidelines and conventions that partner countries are party to.


CIRDI's Approach

The project aimed 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 was 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 also aligned to expectations outlined in Canada’s Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.

Project Results & Impact

The project’s aim was to close gaps in policy and research by focusing on the record of implementation of BAs and different fiscal/royalty regimes to contribute to successful BA implementation in developing nations. It focused on advisory-driven applied research to provide governments, communities, and industry stakeholders with tools to boost the effectiveness of their BAs.

This project worked with specific case-study communities to improve understanding of the BA process and develop tools for improved BA formulation and implementation. While there was a direct positive impact on the case-study communities, the findings were also broadly applicable across mining communities and were disseminated beyond the studied communities. In addition, the project targeted 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 leveraged 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.

In 2018, CIRDI, in partnership with Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, created an online repository of publicly available agreements between communities and investors Open Community Contracts. The agreements featured on the repository include benefit-sharing agreements, leases, memoranda of understanding (MOUs), and revenue sharing agreements concluded in the context of agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, renewable energy, and other natural resource projects. The repository features plain language summaries of each agreement’s key social, environmental, and fiscal terms, among others. Where available, agreement pages include links to studies or reports relevant to the agreement to provide further context.

project team

updates and news

CIRDI & CCSI Launched an Online Repository of Community Benefit Agreements

  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 […]

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REPORT: Implementing the Ahafo Benefit Agreements

In 2008, ten communities in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana entered into agreements with Newmont Ghana to govern company-community relations, ensure local job creation, and share the benefits of […]

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