Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves
17. Conflict-sensitive impact assessment Paul Kapelus, Emily Richards and Hope Sherwin Introduction Seldom do companies operate within a harmonious social context. Very often tensions exist between different elements of the community, locally or nationally, and between government, private and civil society entities. In the past, companies have often chosen not to become involved in what they usually considered to be local political issues either for fear of being perceived as meddling in a nation’s domestic affairs or of exacerbating the situation. Nowadays, companies operating in contexts where low-level conflict and community tensions exist are increasingly recognizing that conflict does concern them, both because it has a direct impact on their business and also because they can actually take steps to manage the problem. Equally, companies are increasingly recognizing that their very presence can be a cause of conflict, either between them and their stakeholders, or between different segments of the community itself. This chapter looks at the complex nature of community conflict and the many ways in which companies can manage it. Although it focuses on the extractive industries, it should be generally applicable. We argue that sustainable and effective solutions lie not in higher fences and more guards, but in a management approach that understands the dynamics of the conflict, the triggers and root causes, and appreciates that managing and avoiding the escalation of conflict must be achieved by building and maintaining trust with stakeholders. Causes of conflict Conflict can be understood to mean different things. This chapter uses...
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