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Stakeholders and social responsibility in Peru

SVS Ingenieros (SRK’s Peru based subsidiary) has been performing environmental studies for the mining and energy sectors in Peru since 1992 and social studies since 2000. The company has carried out these studies for over 50 clients, including large, medium and small mining companies.

Corporate Social Responsibility has gained major importance in Peru, especially in mining, petroleum and energy companies, not only because of potential impacts on the environment, but also because of their effects on culturally and socially different populations. Realising this, companies examined their role as “change agents”, and encouraged stakeholders, locals and state authorities to join in the process.

An early example is Vijus, a remote agricultural community in the north of Peru with a population of 100 in 1981. In 1983, as Compania Minera Poderosa (Poderosa) started mining nearby, their presence encouraged people to migrate to Vijus to find jobs. The town grew in a haphazard way, with poorly-built houses, no basic services, no government presence or social organisation.

Poderosa responded by providing water, sewage and electricity services, sharing services they’d installed in their mining camp. When Poderosa opened its Social Resource office, a new stage of community relations began: the company encouraged and financed programs to help the populace recognise and address their problems, seek solutions, and plan and execute long-term projects for sustainable development.

Soon, the state installed local authorities, schools and health services, with the mining company’s help. Poderosa helped organise the people of the surrounding areas into Community Development Committees (CODECOs). Through awareness and training, the people themselves democratically elected representatives. With the newly-organised Vijus population and Poderosa involved, change was taking place. CODECO committees joined with local authorities to develop projects -- “Strengthening Community Organisation”, and “Promoting Economic Development”. These programs involved Poderosa, district municipal authorities and local organisations in new strategic alliances, this time with community leaders from CODECOs actively participating. The process, now recognised by a municipal resolution, legitimised and empowered their community organisation.

Poderosa’s social responsibility programs allowed Vijus, 2007 population 1352, to become organised and get services by itself, whether or not the mining company continues working in the area.

SVS’s contribution to this process has been to follow up these changes, registering them in the social studies carried out over a decade. This allowed Poderosa to progressively improve their social policies.

Manuela de la Peña:

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