Consent versus Consultation & the IFC

Souce: PinkMoose

Free, prior and informed consent has a sister acronym: one that up until now, surfaced more regularly in documents produced by industry (and governments) – free, prior, and informed consultation. By and large, if you are looking at enforceable standards (as opposed to soft standards, such as UN Declarations) consultation is the focus of FPIC, rather than consent.

This distinction has long been the ‘thorn in the side’ of this right in the view of Indigenous Peoples and their advocates. However, this trend is changing, with the International Finance Corporation (the lending arm of the World Bank) releasing its new Performance Standards, which will come into effect in January 2012.

The updated Performance Standards were a result of an 18 month consultation with affected stakeholders. As a result, free, prior and informed consent is now enshrined in Performance Standard 7.

Updated Performance Standard 7 – IFC

At the moment, where and how FPIC will be operationalised under the IFC standards is the burning question. The accompanying Guidance Notes are yet to be published – although they were due for publication at the end of October 2011*.

For more commentary, see: Foaley Hoag

* Anyone been able to track them down?

Linked literature: financial returns of stakeholder engagement

It used to be the case that the value of a gold mine was based on three variables: the amount of gold in the ground, the cost of extraction, and the world price of gold. Today, I can show you two mines identical on these three variables that differ in their valuation by an order of magnitude.

Why? Because one has local support and the other doesn‘t.

In this article, the authors take a valuation approach to ascertaining the impact of stakeholder engagement on the value of mining companies. The authors posit that stakeholder engagement (and lack thereof) can be empirically related to company value. For those of us for whom algebra is a long forgotten art, some of the methodology may be a little esoteric; however, this emphasis also provides strength to the CSR business case, which has often been criticised for focusing on qualitative rather than quantitative data.

Check out: Spinning Gold: The Financial Returns to External Stakeholder Engagement

H/T to Peter Bruce

Image credit: Uncle Kick-Kick

CSR – examples of corporations doing brave and awesome things

Credit: Linnikin

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is often criticised for being a ‘greenwash’ publicity stunt that is all about corporate image and less about social responsibility. However, there certainly are examples of companies taking on issues that are not ‘image safe’ but are socially important. Richard Branson’s advocacy over the last year is a brilliant case in point. Branson has recently come out as a champion for employing ex-offenders. Better yet, he is not only advocating for other companies to do so, Virgin has been employing ex-offenders for the last two years. Branson argues that ‘everyone deserves a second chance,’ noting in a Guardian interview that:

‘For people coming out of prison it’s a vicious circle. If they can’t get a job, the only thing they can do is reoffend. From society’s point of view that can be very painful.’

This comes after Branson joined the board of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which earlier this year released a report that recommended drug decriminalisation, declaring that:

“the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

Branson’s copped flack for both causes, but he may be paving the way for a new wave of CSR – one that takes on the tough issues. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the causes, Branson certainly appears to and is championing them without regard to their ability to produce another CSR ‘glossy’.

Do you think that Branson’s advocacy is a different take on CSR or more of the same?