Mainstreaming Social Accountability in the Oil, Gas, and Mining Industries

This paper examines the concept of social accountability as it applies to environmental management in extractive industries—specifically oil, gas, and mining—in five countries of the East Asia Pacific (EAP) region. These countries include Cambodia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.  What is under consideration here is the “mainstreaming” of social accountability, set within an action research agenda that targets civil society organizations (CSOs) as the main client beneficiaries.

The study was conducted primarily through literature review.  This included documentation and reference materials that cut across several disciplines, including political science and public administration, economics, engineering, natural resource management, and various specialized sciences (e.g., toxico-kinetics). This was supplemented by some unstructured interviews with representatives from government, industry, and the civil society sector. A draft of the study was presented at a “Feedback Workshop” organized by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific/Ateneo School of Government (ANSA-EAP/ASoG), on 2 April 2009.  The workshop featured participation of stakeholders from government, industry, and civil society organizations, and offered additional perspectives and comments on the work.  Most of the comments were considered in preparing this final draft.

The first section provides some discussion on accountability, separates some ideas related to social accountability, and suggests a draft framework with respect to flow and processes related to “social accountability” and the civil society sector.  The second section identifies some key research themes and subthemes that emerge from the project work.  Within the presentation of these themes, there are insights on various environmental management issues and concerns related to the operations of extractive industries in the EAP.

Broadly, the key research themes are the following:

•    Strengthening regulatory frameworks, policies, and governance systems;
•    Building capacity for environmental monitoring and compliance assessment;
•    Encouraging community health risk assessment tools and approaches;
•    Enabling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and environment, social, governance (ESG) approaches; and,
•    Addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Finally, there is a short discussion that summarizes some considerations for ANSA- EAP and the development of a research strategy going forward.  The focus of this discussion is on advancing a research strategy that will empower civil society organizations to advance social accountability concerns with respect to environmental governance. 

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