The Challenge of Sustainable Communities for Mining Companies Operating in Latin America: Reflections from the MMSD-LA Participatory Process.

CIM Vancouver 2002
Abstract The mining industry finds itself today at a fork in the road: One fork follows the worn path in which mining goes on with sometimes better, sometimes worse relationships with local people, but no real stakeholder participation in decisions. The other fork follows the barely trodden path in which stakeholders other than industry and national governments play significant roles in all decisions, including whether to mine. Certainly, the past is not a good guide to the future. Worse yet, we do not know what the guide should be, nor how useful any general guide can be when applied to conditions in specific mining regions. What we do know is that the promise of "development" is no longer enough to ensure access to resources on the part of corporations and governments. And putting forward a corporate or government development scenario only multiplies the questions: "Development" according to whose definition of quality of life and well-being? Development for whom? On (or under) whose land, or with what water? And, perhaps most important: Who is going to make those decisions, and by what processes?

This presentation seeks to discuss these questions and to make visible the perspectives of local community stakeholders (local governments, NGO and community based organisations, including indigenous peoples) on what are the main challenges faced by mining companies and governments in Latin America. The presentation is based on the results of the MMSD South American regional process, which included research, a regional survey to identify the main issues and over 40 workshops with different stakeholder groups in five countries of South America (www.mmsd-la.org)
Keywords: South America, corporate social and environmental performance, Informed participation, Intercultural relations, sustainable communities, MMSD, Local development, Multistakeholder process, Quality of life, Sustainable development
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