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A client’s/investee’s operations often bring benefits to communities including employment, services, and opportunities for economic development. However, these operations can also increase the potential for community exposure to risks and impacts arising from accidents, structural failures, and releases of hazardous materials. Communities may also be affected by impacts on their natural resources, exposure to diseases, and the use of security personnel.

While acknowledging the public authorities’ role in promoting the health, safety and security of the public, it is also the client’s/investee’s responsibility to avoid or minimize these risks and impacts that may arise from operations. This includes implementing the following actions:

  • Consultation and grievance channels. Where appropriate, the client/investee should conduct consultations and establish a line of communication with the impacted community in order to understand and monitor potential impacts. An appropriate consultation and grievance mechanism can help manage and minimize potential risks, avoid reputational issues and reduce the risk of conflicts with the community.
  • Infrastructure and equipment safety. The client/investee needs to ensure that operations are conducted to prevent potential injury to the surrounding community, especially if aspects of the operations are accessible to the community. If the client’s/investee’s operations involve operation of moving equipment on public roads, the client/investee needs to ensure that the necessary safety measures are in place to prevent the occurrence of any incidents and accidents.
  • Hazardous materials safety. The client/investee needs to prevent or minimize the potential for community exposure to hazardous materials that may be released during operations. If there is a potential for life-threatening hazards, the client/investee needs to modify operations or substitute or eliminate substances causing the hazard. The client/investee also needs to control the safety of deliveries of raw materials and of transportation and disposal of wastes.
  • Environmental and natural resource issues. The client/investee needs to avoid or minimize the exacerbation of impacts caused by natural hazards, such as landslides or floods that could arise from land use changes due to operations. This also includes avoiding or minimizing adverse impacts due to operations on soil, water, and other natural resources used by the affected communities.
  • Community exposure to disease. The client/investee needs to prevent or minimize the potential for community exposure to water-borne or vector-borne disease, and other communicable diseases that could result from operations. This also includes preventing or minimizing the transmission of communicable diseases that may be associated with the influx of temporary or permanent labor associated with the client’s/investee’s operations.
  • Increase in traffic. Traffic, especially movement of heavy vehicles increases especially during construction phase. This can lead to possible accidents/incidents which need to be minimized. There is a need for traffic management plan and training of staff to manage and minimize accidents/incidents.
  • Emergency preparedness and response. The client/investee needs to inform surrounding communities of potential hazards associated with operations and collaborate with the community and local government agencies in preparing to respond effectively to emergency situations.
  • Use of security personnel. A client/investee may retain security personnel to safeguard its operations, which may pose risks to the surrounding community if not managed properly. This includes ensuring that security personnel have not been implicated in past abuses, have been adequately trained in the use of force (including firearms, if necessary) as well as in the conduct toward workers and the local community. The client/investee will also provide a mechanism to allow the surrounding community to express concerns about security personnel and will investigate any allegations of unlawful or abusive acts of security personnel to take the necessary action to prevent recurrence.

If the impacts of a client’s/investee’s operations on the surrounding community are not appropriately managed, this can create conflict and objections to the client’s/investee’s presence in the community. This represents a reputational risk to the client/investee at the local level, and if not addressed, may escalate to reputational risk at the regional and even international level.

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