Social License to Operate – a new perspective
The Brundtland Commission report in 1987, amongst other things, encouraged the participation of a proliferation of non-government organizations in vetting resource development projects and consolidated the concept of “sustainability” in the minds of all parties to such development. A study of resource development conflicts points out that environmental and social issues, while always the stated points of opposition, are often proxies for the underlying issues which are rooted in the opposing worldviews held by the resource developer, the affected community members and the external interveners. Therefore, attempts to address the stated environmental or social issue results in frustration and sometimes failure because the underlying worldview causes of the conflict are not articulated or addressed.
This paper is based on research that correlates worldview with propensity to support properly considered resource development. The research method used factor analysis to develop multivariate correlations for the answers to 143 questions offered by 300 respondents. The respondents came from a wide variety of geographical, vocational and social backgrounds and the results suggest that, for this group at least, queries into worldview are predictive of support for resource development.
The theoretical and research underpinnings of the hypothesis are used to revisit a previous resource development failure in order to demonstrate that sources of conflict are generally much deeper than the oft articulated issues of environmental and social problems.