Shared responsibility for sustainable communities
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One of the biggest challenges for the mining industry has been securing its licence to operate, both at the level of individual mining developments and across the industry as a whole. Once a legal licence to operate has been gained companies face an on-going challenge to prove that their activities are not only socially acceptable but make an adequate contribution to long-term sustainable development, particularly in the communities in which they operate. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are an important means through which companies seek to contribute to local community sustainability and thus secure their social licence to operate. Traditional approaches to CSR undertaken by resource companies, however, tend to focus on the ‘hard’ dimensions of community sustainability such as infrastructure and services and fail to embrace a more holistic approach that also develops the ‘soft’ dimensions such as empowerment, participation and community cohesion. In the terms of legitimacy theory, CSR programs tend to seek pragmatic legitimacy rather than moral or cognitive legitimacy. This deficiency has been recognised in recent literature where there have been calls for more community-centred and participatory approaches to CSR.In this paper we argue that the adoption of Shared Responsibility approach informed by deliberative participatory methodologies is essential for sustainable community development. In such an approach, companies, governments and communities are equal partners in creating a sustainable future for the community affected by a mining development, with each party also maintaining its own responsibilities for the process and the implementation of its outcomes. Central to the approach is the effective incorporation of local community knowledge, experience and values into the processes of identifying and delivering sustainable outcomes from a development. We identify a number of deliberative techniques that can be applied within a Shared Responsibility approach.
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