Andean countries are rich in mineral resources. Governments, businesses and communities alike are challenged to find ways to turn mineral wealth into development and prosperity, especially for indigenous communities.
In Peru and Bolivia, the Canadian Embassy has been busy promoting corporate social responsibility and speaking with local communities and the extractive sector to help reduce social conflict over mining projects.
The Canadian Embassy and the Peru-Canada Chamber of Commerce coordinated the visit of Mr. Glenn Nolan, mining entrepreneur, indigenous leader and President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), to both Peru and Bolivia. Mr. Nolan is an expert on how the integration of local communities into mining activities can have a positive impact for community development.
Born to an Aboriginal family who benefited from the opportunities offered by the local mining business, Glenn Nolan witnessed how a good relationship between companies and locals provided his community members a better standard of living and maintained their traditional relationship with nature.
Providing basic services, such as electricity, water, health care and education, as well as well-paid jobs, can be an important challenge in many mineral-rich areas in Latin America. There is an urgent need to include local communities in mining activities and to promote responsible resource management in order to foster growth and sustainable development.
With this in mind, Canada is supporting efforts to improve the management of mining royalties by municipalities so that local communities derive economic benefit from the mining business.
Having worked for years on community-business relations in the extractive sector, Mr. Nolan spoke from his own experiences as a First Nations Chief and the first-ever Aboriginal president of PDAC: “Engaging communities effectively is about communicating ideas, options and strategies. This is a two-way process that will evolve over time.”
Explaining how dialogue, respect and transparency played a key role in the integration of Canadian communities with local mining activities helped Peruvians better understand how these best practices could be applied to a local context.
Mr. Nolan also joined the official delegation accompanying Prime Minister Harper on his first bilateral visit to Peru and participated in discussions on the importance of proactive community relations and efficient resource management in the extractive sector.
In addition to his week in Peru, Mr. Nolan traveled to La Paz, Bolivia to meet with Canadian mining companies, civil society, mining associations, indigenous intellectuals and other local stakeholders. He emphasized the need to build trust and open dialogue, and achieve government support to improve community-business relations in favour of local economic and social development.
Canadian messages about the importance of building trust and strengthening community relations have captured the interest of several influential leaders in Bolivia. Since Canada is a world leader in these areas, there is significant appetite in Bolivia for more contact with Canadian experts and knowledge-sharing on Canadian best practices on these topics.
The Canadian Embassy team in Peru and Bolivia looks forward to further highlighting Canadian leadership on corporate social responsibility at PERUMIN - Peru’s own mining convention, in September, and at PDAC’s next annual conference in March 2014.