Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves
4. Community-based agreement making with land-connected peoples Simon Nish and Sara Bice Introduction Community-based agreement making offers an alternative to traditional compliance-driven social impact assessment (SIA) in the project development process. Drawing on mining industry case examples from Australia, Canada and southern Africa, we demonstrate that community-based agreements – when conducted in a participatory manner – offer an improved approach for: • • • • • balancing the costs of projects with desired community benefits; incorporating local knowledge and concerns; feeding back and responding to information about ongoing impacts; defining the local community’s economic participation in the development; and securing the significant, continuing involvement of communities in determining their futures relative to the development process. Two central factors underpin our analysis. First, our critique is primarily of regulatory SIA, by which we mean SIA undertaken as a compliance exercise as required by governments or lending institutions. In our experience, this type of SIA is static and predictive (as opposed to dynamic and responsive), does little to incorporate real community consultation or participation, and results in a stagnant document which by its nature is unable to respond to organic shifts in communities over time. Indeed, Vanclay (2003a, p. 2) considers regulatory SIA to be an anachronism and the simple prediction of negative impacts, whereas practitioners approach SIA as a discipline and ‘a philosophy about development and democracy’. Despite advancement in SIA generally, such as evidenced by the International Principles for Social Impact Assessment (Vanclay, 2003b), much SIA in the resources industry remains compliancebased. Such SIAs fulfil regulatory requirements...
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