Driving Shared Development
Driving Shared Development
Expectations regarding our activities are not the same everywhere. Our ability to identify and appropriately address these expectations determines how well integrated, successful and sustainable our activities will be. Fostering dialogue with our stakeholders is an important part of this process.
Wherever we operate, we try to establish a dialogue that is as wide-ranging and constructive as possible with a very broad array of stakeholders, who often have divergent and even conflicting expectations. This process of listening, assessing impacts and responding to expectations at every stage in our projects and throughout the operating life of our facilities is often difficult, confusing and publicly criticized.
For these reasons, we are committed to a continuous improvement process that includes:
- Providing training to enhance the professional skills of our 370 employees involved in community issues, of which 329 on a full-time basis.
- Tapping the expertise of NGOs. For example, the French NGO Institut de recherche et d’applications des méthodes de développement (IRAM - Institute for the Research & Application of Development Methods) has developed a specific training program on selecting, tracking and assessing local development projects. The program was deployed in our subsidiary in Nigeria in 2010 and has been offered to other subsidiaries.
- Creating and assessing new tools tailored to each specific situation.
Our goal is to help local communities take control of their own development and future and to promote a sustainable coexistence between our industrial activities and people living and working near our operations.
Public Hearings in Alberta, Canada
In the province of Alberta, Canada, five years of consensus building and dialogue with local authorities and residents concerning our Joslyn oil sands project culminated in a series of public hearings in the fall of 2010. Over two weeks, 15 Total experts gave testimony and answered questions from representatives of national and regional governments, local communities including First Nations and people living and working near facilities, as well as NGOs and other oil companies. At the end of this thorough and transparent democratic process, the project was found to be in the public interest and final regulatory approval was recommended. Despite a climate predisposed to be hostile toward oil sands mining, the public hearings also led to the signature of economic and social development agreements with the primary communities, which commit Total for the life of the project. Lastly, in May 2011, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) — Alberta’s energy regulator — gave the go-ahead for project construction and operation and site reclamation.
An Independent Evaluation in the Congo
APNI, an association backed by Total E&P Congo, helped
local company Diesel Exploration Systems to acquire an
electronic test bench.
Seven years after Association Pointe-Noire Industrielle (APNI) was created, it was formally evaluated by Total E&P Congo. The aim was to help this association dedicated to the financial support and coaching of fledging local businesses take stock of its work to date and give it new impetus. The subsidiary commissioned a French development NGO, GRET1, to conduct interviews and a field review. The findings delivered in 2010 helped APNI make some important decisions, to shift its focus back to key missions, adopt stricter governance and raise the professional level of its staff. Total E&P Congo also decided to distance itself from APNI’s day-to-day management, so that it can learn to operate independently. Buoyed by this first experience, our Congolese subsidiary plans to conduct another assessment of its community development projects, this time focusing on the Djeno oil terminal.
1. GRET is an international cooperation and support association created 30 years ago to promote sustainable development and solidarity and fight poverty and structural inequality.
Consulting Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia
The problem we faced in Bolivia was how to conduct a seismic survey of the Ipati Block, located in the heartland of the Guarani indigenous people, while fully respecting their rights and culture. In accordance with our Charter of Principles and Guidelines Regarding Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, we therefore set up a process for discussion and consensus-building and, even more important, participation for each project phase. In addition to creating an agricultural support program, our local subsidiary made sure indigenous people were full partners in the process. Seven of them joined the team responsible for community relations and three technicians were trained to monitor the project’s environmental effects as it moved forward. The result: a climate of solid, enduring trust that earned us our social license to operate in the region. Our Exploration & Production business is currently preparing an Indigenous Management Plan for countries where such issues are particularly sensitive.
Feyzin Refinery Neighbors’ Conference in France
The Feyzin Refinery is a Seveso II-classified site located 12 kilometers from Lyon and just a few hundred meters from residential neighborhoods. In 2007, it created an innovative forum for dialogue, the Feyzin Refinery Neighbors’ Conference. Instigated by Total, the municipal authorities of Feyzin and the Institute for an Industrial Safety Culture (ICSI), the conference is dedicated to reflection and discussion.
Comprising 50 members — 30 Feyzin residents, five Total representatives, five city officials and other regional stakeholders, the Neighbors’ Conference makes recommendations to enhance the day-to-day relationship between residents and the refinery. The recommendations are then approved by the municipality and the refinery, which also provides the necessary funding.
Refinery employees and city officials also worked together to prepare L’Usine et la Ville, des voisins peu commun [Plant and City, Unlikely Neighbors], a guide for business leaders and public decision-makers based on past experience and best governance practices. The guide recommends a number of practical solutions for fostering dialogue between companies and municipalities.