Community Engagement Strategy, an Emerging PrioritySun, 12/29/2019 - 07:00
Q: What market needs does Enûma seek to solve during 2019-20?
SF: For the energy sector, given the current state of some energy projects in Mexico, especially oil and gas projects, developing an engagement strategy with communities will be a priority for companies and project developers. Together with other best international sustainability practices, such as impact assessment, early stakeholder engagement and community investments should be considered as fundamental basis in any social project strategy. These practices are gaining momentum at a global level, and with its complex social context, Mexico’s energy sector must not overlook. Thus, our operations will be highly focused on this area.
DE: What differentiates our offer from other market players is that we are a strategic consulting company. While many companies can execute Social Impact Assessments (SIAs), we differentiate our services by focusing on the strategic vision of a company’s operations. The creation of an integral strategy, composed by metrics and indicators to assess and measure the impact of a project should be determined from conception, which means prior to starting construction activities. We recommend the best possible strategic approaches and investment plans to provide our clients with many operational, financial and risk-averse benefits.
Q: In which energy segment are your services in highest demand and why?
DE: In terms of renewables, we are working with solar and wind developments, doing SIA and social investment plans. On the oil and gas side, we were one of the first companies to execute a SIA for a deepwater project, after that companies have to develop their exploration wells, so some engagement and social intelligence services are required. We also have worked with the financial, extractive and construction segments in an effort to diversify our offer, but although our practices are similar for all these segments, they are not required to develop a social impact assessment by Mexican law, as in the energy industry. We believe this framework should apply to every infrastructure project and this is part of Enuma’s philosophy.
SF: With the oil and gas sector, we are working in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern region of the country mostly following up with SIA resolutions, stakeholder engagements and social investment programs. Our experience in this region has enabled us to provide valuable advisory to our clients.
Regarding power generation projects, most of our clients are based in the north of the country. We have noticed, that the market is already saturated, with some regions holding projects of up to 700MW. This creates an energy surplus and reduces local marginal prices. Consequently, we have seen projects focused on the center part of the country. Since most of these projects require considerable amounts of land, project developers are faced to negotiate with small land plot owners and common owned lands, mostly ejidos. Our involvement from the early stages of a project is important in order to help companies negotiate land leases and engaging the communities based in international standards and human rights.
Q: What recommendations would you provide to unlock unfinished projects?
DE: As municipal administrations last three years, it is necessary to align the short-term vision with the larger scale vision of the state and federal governments. We have identified there is a disconnection between the different levels of government since decisions taken at the federal level take longer to be replicated at the local level. In addition, managing communities’ expectations is crucial. For example, the SIA is done with many months in advance when the project still has a long way to be developed. It is important to have a continuous communication with the communities and strategic stakeholders.
SF: On several occasions, we have found that local stakeholders were not familiar with concepts or legal framework of the Energy Reform, nor did they were aware of future projects to be deployed in the region. Also, we have experienced that most conflicts with communities or other project stakeholders are due to misinformed concerns, or unmet high expectations. With our clients we constantly promote informed and continuous communications with authorities and other strategic stakeholders, in order to strengthen ties between project stakeholders. This help companies to close information gaps and ensure the sustainable development of their projects.
Enûma is a consulting firm specialized in the design, execution and evaluation of social impact and sustainable development strategies. This is achieved through an innovative methodology that generates trustworthy results and high-quality solutions.