…Partners GBF, Global Rights, Zenera to host maiden community engagement and human rights awards at the conference

Ministry of Petroleum Resources and CSR-in-Action Community Engagement Standards Presentation Workshop to Government Ministries and Agencies held at Chelsea Hotel, Abuja.

CSR-in-Action, Nigeria’s foremost sustainability outfit, is set to unveil Nigeria’s first-ever community engagement framework, the Community Engagement Standards (CES), at the occasion of its 8th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries Conference (SITEI). Themed: Community Engagement: A Panacea for Peace in Extractive Operations, the 8th SITEI Conference will focus on fostering discussions that will engender peace and harmony, security and sustainable development for all stakeholders in the extractive space. The conference is scheduled to hold on Friday, 22 November 2019, in Lagos.

The CES, which was developed by CSR-in-Action and funded by the Facility for Oil Sector Transformation and Reform (FOSTER II), was designed following painstaking and extensive engagement with stakeholders in nine extractives-focused states in Nigeria, including Lagos, from which we got salient data for designing a step-by-step guidance document for engagement with communities throughout the life cycle of a project.

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The CES has been adopted by government agencies such as the Federal Ministry of the Environment (FMEnv) and Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR), including its agencies such as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). It has also received the approval of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

A key feature of this year’s conference is the hosting of the premier Community Engagement and Human Rights Award (CAHR) which seeks to provide a platform to encourage businesses to take extraneous steps to correct the anomalies of engagement within communities, primarily extractive communities, by acknowledging and appreciating best performing companies.

The CAHR Awards, which is set to be the foremost community engagement and human rights awards in Africa, is co-founded with Growing Businesses Foundation (GBF), and will recognise and bestow awards to outstanding individuals and corporate entities that have displayed exemplary service in seven categories including: The Ken Saro-Wiwa Environmental Management Award, The MKO Abiola Community Engagement Awards, The Aminu Kano Community Impact Award, The Ransome-Kuti Human Rights Award, The Apostle Hayford Alile Humanitarian Award and The Josephine Nkemdilim-Bertram Ekenanye Equal Rights Award. Other partners include Global Rights, which through funding from Open Society Foundation (OSF), will fund the annual human rights award, and Zenera Consulting, the official media partner.

Speaking on the 8th SITEI Conference, Bekeme Masade-Olowola, Chief Executive, CSR-in-Action, and Convener, SITEI, explained that: ‘’This year’s conference is a close-knit one designed to primarily unveil the CES to select key stakeholders in the extractives space and recommend practical steps in engagement and relationship management between government and extractive companies with their host communities for accelerated and sustainable development. If according to Goldman Sachs’ research, over 73% of project delays the world over were due to ‘above ground’ or non-technical risks including community resistance, then it makes sense to have a structured way of averting this crisis that has grossly affected African nations in recent times.‘’

With regard to the Community Engagement and Human Rights Awards (CAHR Awards), she asserted that she was happy to have women-founded partners involved in the process. She said, ‘It is tailored to encourage and reward individuals and corporate entities who have distinguished themselves in their community engagement and human rights practices”, noting that the different categories were named after outstanding people who have left indelible footprints in one way or the other in the areas their awards are named after.

Masade-Olowola expressed appreciation to Ford Foundation for its consistent support over the years, FOSTER II – of the Department for International Development (DFID) – for funding the CES vision, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, its agencies and partner ministries, for enthusiastically seeking self-regulation, and other partners who have supported SITEI in hosting the conference in the last eight years, starting with the Deputy High Commission of Canada. And also thanked Steering Committee Members, Chris Agwu, Director Downstream Services, MPR, Dr. Muazu Abdulkadir, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Nafiu Akinpelu, Deputy Director, FMEnv, Chief Bariza Dooh, Traditional Ruler, Goi Community, Rivers State, Otunba Babatunde Alatise, Chairman, Mining and Solid Minerals Group, Waziri Adio, Executive Secretary, NEITI and Dr. Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien, Co-Chair, Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG).

SITEI is a national stakeholder engagement workshop for stakeholders in the extractive industries, now in its 8th year. The conference annually brings together over 1,000 businesses, public and civic sector leaders – C-Level executives from the extractive industries, directors from multilateral and financial sectors, thought leaders and community and good governance advocates – with the common goal of harnessing and utilising the huge potential within the industries.

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