Socially Responsible Business in Indigenous Territory? A human-centered approach to Impact Assessments and Corporate Responsibility

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUMID International Master programme in applied International Development and Management

Abstract: This paper takes a critical look at current methodologies used by business for assessing impacts on indigenous communities dependent upon natural resources for the maintenance of their traditional way of life. It argues that new human-centered, holistic and bottom-up approaches can contribute to a greater understanding of direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of resource development on indigenous peoples. It also stresses the need to critically address power constraints embedded within structures and behaviours in current IA, CSR and stakeholder processes in the discovery of new assessment methodologies. In doing so, new approaches may greatly improve CSR practices through an increased understanding of needs, priorities and value systems of the communities and countries within which multinational corporations operate. Additionally, through the use of participatory approaches and good consultation practices, conflict and rights abuses can be further avoided, moving business from the realm of altruism to action-oriented approaches that empower change and foster development. This paper encompasses experiences from a selection of resource extractive case studies, including mining, oil and gas and hydro-electric projects that have a large population of resource dependent communities and concerned indigenous populations. Case study findings are used to explore the discovery of new human-centered approaches that shift the balance of power, reflect indigenous worldviews, and empower human agency. Therefore, the paper presents both the business case and the people’s case, with particular focus on the latter, in the aim to promote responsible business in indigenous territory by means of new human-centered methodologies.

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