Jon Samuel: Anglo American's Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox

Photo: Anglo American

 

By Jon Samuel, Group Head of Government and Social Affairs, Anglo American plc

 

Anglo American is committed to making a lasting positive contribution to the communities associated with its operations, and to being a partner of choice for host governments and communities, as well as an employer of choice. The effective management of social issues is a necessary element of good overall operational management, and a source of competitive advantage.

 

The Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox (SEAT) is an award-winning approach to managing impacts on both host communities – where operations are located – and associated communities – those from where labour is drawn or which are otherwise impacted by our operations.

 

SEAT provides managers with international best-practice guidance and tools to develop strategies for enhancing the positive impact of their operations, while also mitigating any negative impacts. SEAT is firmly rooted in the practicalities and commercial considerations of the business.

 

Since its launch in 2003, SEAT has been used at over 50 operations in 16 countries, and has become an important tool in how Business Units manage their business performance. SEAT has been used, for example, to inform local procurement decisions; as part of the risk management process; and to provide guidance to capital projects implementing their stage gate requirements.

 

Feedback from managers demonstrates the considerable business value of SEAT:

 

  • SEAT provides a framework to build constructive and transparent dialogue with stakeholders.
  • SEAT helps managers identify business strategies with positive socio-economic impact.
  • SEAT helps local operations secure their licence to operate and the trust of stakeholders.

 

Completing a SEAT assessment every three years is a key requirement of the Social Way – the governing framework for the management of social impacts associated with our operations.

 

SEAT is an assessment methodology that is applicable to all stages of mine development. While SEAT is principally aimed at existing operations, its tools can be successfully applied to all stages of an operation’s lifecycle, from exploration to closure.

 

All Anglo American operations are required to carry out a SEAT assessment every three years*. This ensures changes at the operation and in the wider socio-economic or political environment are reflected, and allows time for measures set out in the previous SEAT report to be implemented and evaluated. It also gives stakeholders the opportunity to share their views in a structured way, and to maintain an element of local accountability

 

 

Core Objectives of SEAT:

 

  1. Provide guidance and support for achieving full compliance with the Social Way – Anglo American’s framework of requirements for social performance management during project development and closure.

  2. Identify key social and economic impacts and issues that need to be managed and, thereby, improve risk management.

  3. Assess existing social performance initiatives and identify where improvements are required.

  4. Facilitate the capture and sharing of best practice across Anglo American.

  5. Improve each operation’s understanding of the full range of local stakeholders, their views and interests; provide guidance in developing and updating annual Stakeholder Engagement Plans (SEPs), and increase trust and goodwill among host communities.

  6. Support sustainable socio-economic development in host communities.

 

 

This is the third version of SEAT. It includes important
updates and integrates key themes that have grown in
importance since the publication of the previous version
in 2007.

 

Specifically, this version of SEAT:

 

  • Incorporates Social Way requirements approved in 2009.

  • Reflects current best practice through inputs from key NGO partners (including CARE International, Fauna & Flora International and International Alert), leading organisations on social performance management (including ICMM guidance) and internal experience and case study analysis.

  • Establishes clear linkages with the UN Framework on Business and Human Rights (see box).

  • Broadens the focus from communities to wider stakeholders.

  • Increases emphasis on risk assessment and prioritisation, and establishes formal links with annual operational risk assessment processes.

  • Sets out new guidance on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and improved guidance on conflict assessment (developed in conjunction with International Alert).

  • Presents improved guidance on resettlement based on learning shared across Anglo American.

  • Sets out new guidance on low cost housing (using materials prepared by Habitat for Humanity International).

  • Places greater emphasis on broader socio-economic benefit delivery through core business activities (such as local employment, local procurement and infrastructure development) rather than non-core business activities (such as through corporate social investment).

  • Provides clearer guidance on developing social management plans.

 

An Overview of the UN Framework on Business and Human Rights:

 

The UN Framework comprises three core guiding principles: the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties (including business); the business responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for more effective access to remedies when human rights abuses occur. These are described in more detail below:

  • Protect: Government is regarded as having primary responsibility for the protection of human rights abuses by third parties (in all instances, including business), as businesses do not have the political mandate or resources to assume this responsibility.

  • Respect: Businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights and not to infringe on the rights of others (i.e. do no harm).

  • Remedy: Finally, the UN Framework recognises that respect for human rights would not be meaningful unless those who have been harmed (or believe they have been harmed) have access to an independent and reliable redress mechanisms.

 

 

SEAT will be made publicly available as an example of best practice guidance on the management of socio-economic performance. More information on SEAT can be found at:
www.angloamerican.com/seat

 

In some circumstances it may be sensible to combine the SEAT assessments for more than one operation. In general, this should only be the case where the operations concerned interact with a broadly common group of stakeholders (for example, if they are located in / around the same town).

 

Under such circumstances, impacts are likely to be common or overlapping, and the management responses implemented by each operation will need to be coordinated.

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