ERM is the first to recognize the work of the country’s regulatory bodies relating to social and environmental impact assessments. There needs to be definitive guidelines on both compliance with regulation and the undertaking of effective and thorough social impact assessments. It should not be considered an obstacle but should become a mainstream practice, based on international benchmarks. Anticipation is the name of the game. Social issues go well beyond official regulations and permitting processes. The World Bank and the IFC have extensive references on how to best approach these matters that are being applied worldwide and that Mexico’s private sector can also reference.
Social aspects are extremely important for large-scale projects such as wind farms. There are regions in Mexico that are more sensitive than others, like indigenousowned lands. Wind energy companiesare bound by law to perform a social impact assessment, which is challenging now because not all the regulations and guidelines have been defined. A right approach to the communities implies close interaction and well-designed communication strategies that get the message clearly to the communities. Many communities in Mexico tend to think that infrastructure projects are equal to money but they must keep in mind that private companies are not the government. Project developers should have social plans to make a positive impact on the project’s surrounding communities but these plans do not substitute government actions.