Luis Ugalde
Director General
Integralia Consultores
Sergio Sanmiguel
Social Impact Director
Integralia Consultores
View from the Top

Linking Corporations, Regulators and Local Communities

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 17:10

Q: Why should renewable energy project developers rely on Integralia Consultores’ social impact assessment services?
SS: Integralia Social, the social impact assessment division of Integralia Consultores, was created when the Energy Reform was enacted in 2013. Since then, we have undertaken social impact assessments for renewable energy generation projects across all technologies and midstream projects in the oil and gas industry, among others. From this extensive track record, we have developed solid expertise and in-house methodologies. Our added value lies in our in-depth fieldwork with the communities where projects are being developed. Our on-site team includes specialized anthropologists, sociologists and other experts in related disciplines. Social impact assessments, at their core, are risk management tools. This tool should not be seen as another permitting procedure by project developers. It is a tool that helps them to get the lay of the land and sensitizes them to local community perceptions of a project and the company developing it. Mexico is made up of diverse communities, cultures, ethnicities and perceptions. Our tools can assist in overcoming the project’s handicap of generating negative perceptions from the outset. It revolves around mitigating potential impacts through constructive dialogue and collaborative participation and avoiding the imposition of unilateral positions. We are the impartial bridge between the industry’s regulator, local communities and corporations.
Q: How is Integralia Consultores building bridges between corporations and local governments?
LU: We are closely monitoring the new contingent of municipal and state officials. We are also following up on new developments in local congresses. Twenty-seven of the 32 state congresses were renewed parallel to the presidential election. In 19 of those, President López Obrador’s party, MORENAhas a majority. We are keeping an eye on new legislations and regulations at a municipal level.
SS: Based on our tenured, local, boots-on-the-ground knowledge of local communities, we outlined the new socio-political panorama for project developers. This includes laying out security issues in the states and locations where this issue is relevant. Our local network includes academics, opinion leaders and public officials.
Q: How does Integralia Consultores deploy an effective stakeholder-mapping mechanism?
LU: Our follow-up stakeholder-mapping mechanism goes as far back as the launch of the electoral process for the 2018 presidential, legislative and local government elections. Throughout this process, we published a series of precise reports concerning candidates, pre-candidates, electoral showdowns and campaigns. We also published equally thorough studies covering both local and federal congress compositions. All these reports are complemented by fieldwork, including discussions with political players from the country’s different localities and qualitative analyses.
SS: In the case of specific projects or energy-related issues, we perform a two-pronged mapping. Research on one side includes a stakeholders’ Who’s Who. On the other side, we produce qualitative tools such as anthropological analysis, in-depth interviews, focus groups or population census. Our fieldwork allows us to establish how key relationships and links among each stakeholder might affect the project’s development.
Q: How is Integralia Consultores consolidating itself as the reference firm for social impact assessments?
LU: We first need to understand what is going to happen with Mexico’s energy model under President López Obrador. He announced that PEMEX will recover its crude oil production activities in marginal onshore and shallow-water fields. Traditionally, the NOC has had a direct contractor role and is now taking back a direct role in negotiating with the communities. This represents a risk of going back to a model where PEMEX, the state government and the mayor directly negotiate all aspects of the project.