Groundbreaking Report on Mining, Oil and Gas Companies Released:
Civil Society and Industry Representatives Agree on Good Overseas Practices
Ottawa, March 29, 2007. Canada could become a world leader on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) if the federal government and other stakeholders accept and act on the recommendations of a groundbreaking report released today.
The report comes out of a ten month government-led roundtable process that included representatives from civil society organizations, industry, academia, labour, and socially responsible investors acting as an Advisory Group, as well as representatives from communities affected by Canadian mining, oil and gas operations in the developing world.
The Advisory Group report lays out recommendations for a CSR framework of good conduct for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies operating abroad.
“There have been growing concerns about the environmental, social and human rights impact of Canadian extractive companies operating in the developing world. The Advisory Group has worked together to develop an effective framework for addressing these issues, achieving an important consensus from industry and civil society representatives,” says Gerry Barr, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. “We now urge the government to act upon our recommendations.”
“Canada’s extractive sectors are committed to improving their social and environmental performance and adhering to best practices wherever they operate,” states Gordon Peeling, President and CEO of The Mining Association of Canada. “The Advisory Group report acknowledges the fact that in weak governance zones, companies face challenges that require new sets of tools, skills and support and that all stakeholders must work together to achieve positive outcomes.”
If implemented, the CSR framework would establish standards and reporting obligations for Canadian companies. It would also create an ombudsman office to investigate and assess complaints, and to evaluate compliance with the standards. The report lays out procedures for withholding government services to companies in cases of serious non-compliance, while also supporting the development of tools to promote good practice in the extractive sector and adherence to the CSR framework.
“Canadian mining companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges are the largest outward investors, with interests in more than 8,000 properties in over 100 countries around the world,” adds Tony Andrews, Executive Director of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. “Their activities can help to create new economic opportunities in the developing world. However, it is equally important that they continually improve their performance in line with corporate social responsibility expectations. The Advisory Group’s report will contribute to the development of necessary guidance and tools.”
The roundtables were set up in response to a unanimous report by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that called on the federal government to “put in place a process involving relevant industry associations, non-governmental organisations and experts, which will lead to the strengthening of existing programmes and policies in this area, and, where necessary, to the establishment of new ones.”
“Parliamentarians responded to repeated appeals for assistance from villagers and indigenous peoples affected by Canadian mining companies and tasked the Government of Canada to take action," says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.” Industry and civil society members have worked together in an unprecedented way and it is now up to the government to implement these recommendations.”