The principal goal of the National Bureau of Dialogue and Sustainability of the Presidency of Council of Ministers (NBDS-PCM) is to prevent and/or transform the social conflicts generated around development opportunities, usually in the mining and oil sectors. To achieve this, the NBDS-PCM has implemented Dialogue Tables and Development Tables around Peru. These may be requested by the company and/or communities and provide a space where the State meets the community and the company, facilitated by the NBDS, to share information and promote local development with community participation.
Cinthia, Commissioner, NBDS-PCM, cites an example of her success in establishing agreements and building a development opportunity between a company and the community as the Dialogue Table for Block 95, in Loreto:
At the beginning, the Table was hard because population think that government is on behalf of the company. Therefore, it took many meetings to clarify the goals of the space and that people trust me. I generated spaces where government sectors responsible for environmental regulation, compensation, environmental impact studies and other topics, gave information to people about their rights and the duties of the company during all extraction stages. I managed to involve government sectors that attended the demands of population in health and infrastructure topics, principally. Likewise, the company signed agreements with the community about social infrastructure. In this way, the company are working with the respective government sector for a sustainable intervention. As result of this process, the community accepted the extractive project and they are participating in their own development.
Cinthia believes the training and experiences she received through IM4DC enhanced her capabilities in different ways. She used the knowledge she had gained in the CARD course, contrasting the efforts of Australian and Peruvian companies to reach social consensus, to encourage local companies to change their approach to their relationship with communities. The course also taught her about local development planning and social impact assessments, which prompted discussion inside the NBDS-PCM and has become a central component in agreeing development projects with communities.
NBDS-PCM has shared its experiences with researchers at UWA and IM4DC interested in the relationships between companies and communities and hopes that other counties can replicate the Dialogue Tables as mechanisms to resolve social conflict. Her IM4DC experiences also resulted in Cinthia participating as Peruvian expert in a workshop on capacity building, held in Peru. She was able to pass on to professionals what she had learned about the perspectives and approaches of stakeholders. The workshop brought together academics, government and company personnel interested in improving their approach to communities to get social consensus on development.
For the future, Cinthia wishes to consolidate what has already been learned through the Dialogue and Development Tables and the social projects and programs implemented in areas of extractive activity, by extending the investment in these approaches:
My plan is to generate consensus about the importance of this topic with local authorities. In this process, we should identify which are the challenges and opportunities and the stakeholders involved. In the best of cases, we could get the commitment of a local authority for planning the local development from the beginning of an extractive project.
Through conference participation and organising workshops herself, Cinthia will be finding out more about the best tools, mechanisms and policies in development planning and hopes to reinforce capacity in conducting social impact assessments:
It is important that people understand the relevance of including social impact assessments in the environmental impact studies that companies present to the Peruvian government for beginning an extractive project.