Specialist technical stream
Synergy puts new layers of analysis into its approach to human rights impact and risk assessment.
Our interventions in this area include:
- Synergy integrates the international human rights framework into social risk analysis and mitigation;
- Synergy has developed a bespoke methodology to help companies better understand the potential impact that their activity can have on human rights and how to ensure that they are upholding their responsibility to respect human rights while at the same time enhancing business performance;
- Consistent with the international consensus pioneered at the UN by Professor John Ruggie, Synergy recognises that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights. However, we also understand that this responsibility places a significant challenge on companies, particularly those working in environments affected by conflict. Accordingly, we provide assistance with the development of policies and procedures to build respect for human rights into core management systems and controls, with training and monitoring and evaluation; and
- We develop systems for implementing the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, including training and reporting.
Land, human settlements and resettlement
Synergy recognises that competition for land is often a key issue facing companies and communities involved in the extractive sector. The displacement and resettlement of communities and their livelihoods is a challenging experience for all concerned and often leads to conflict over the right to land and its use. For the communities themselves it can be emotional and traumatic, and for the company it can affect the success or failure of a project.
We help clients and communities by:
- considering all possible alternatives in arriving at a decision;
- working with them to ensure that the resettlement process is conducted in the most sensitive, equitable and transparent way possible using community based vehicles to enhance open and informed participation;
- Our work on resettlement is guided by our experience and international best practice including the IFC Performance Standards; and
- We work with all parties to maximise opportunities and secure positive outcomes from the process.
Disputes over land ownership and access rights are often exacerbated where land use and occupancy are based on tradition rather than law;
- There has been growing international recognition over the last few decades that indigenous peoples have distinct rights and interests that are increasingly being affected by extractive projects;
- The adverse effects of these projects may include loss of land and access to resources, destruction of culturally significant sites, loss of livelihoods, exposure to disease and new social pathologies, and in certain cases, cultural and social breakdown; and
- Synergy works with clients to help them understand the perspectives and expectations of indigenous peoples impacted by their activities, and to develop strategies for managing issues related to indigenous peoples based on engagement, trust and mutual benefit. In particular, accepted convention requires free, prior and informed consultation (FPIC) with indigenous groups before groups are affected by commercial development. Synergy has considerable experience in the consultations and negotiations with groups affected by development.
Artisanal and small-scale mining
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) represents a major livelihood activity for many of the communities amongst which our clients operate. In many contexts, ASM has implications for much wider social challenges such as conflict, the role of women and children in society, migration and resource ownership.
- We work with clients to understand the full complexities of ASM and to manage the risks to their business associated with the activity;
- Synergy will assist companies in dealing with local and national regulatory agencies to promote a workable public policy framework for managing small-scale mining; and
- We are able to use our experience in a wide range of circumstances to manage consultation between management and small-scale miners and to develop practical, workable arrangements.
Local economic development
The establishment of a mining or oil and gas facility often involves resettlement and, even where it does not, the loss of farm land or other form of traditional economic activity (including ASM).
- In order to ensure that communities derive the optimal benefit of large scale economic benefit (and for companies to secure and maintain their social licence to operate), companies in the extractive sector must work with local communities to develop alternative economic activity, both to compensate these communities for lost opportunities and to ensure that, when these companies close their facilities and move on, people whose lives have been affected by their presence, are sustainably enhanced;
- Working with and through associated local and international economic development experts, Synergy has considerable expertise in analyzing pre-existing economic activity, identifying alternative livelihoods and working closely with communities to establish commercial and subsistence ventures; and
- Where this is feasible, these are developed so as to be integrated into companiesí local procurement strategies and goals.