How to obtain the Social License to Operate in projects in Argentina

In the late 1990s, the concept of the Social License to Operate was coined, primarily within the Mining Sector. It denotes the authorized consent given by the communities involved in the development of large-scale projects.

In Argentina, companies encounter a formidable challenge in acquiring and preserving the Social License to Operate (SLO) for projects with substantial socio-environmental consequences, guaranteeing their sustainability. Unlike a tangible permit, this license constitutes an immaterial validation conferred by the community within which the company operates. Its viability hinges upon the community’s acceptance of the company’s undertakings and initiatives, ultimately determining the organization’s enduring prosperity.

Obtaining this license is not a straightforward or singular endeavor. It is an ongoing process that necessitates close collaboration between project proponents and various stakeholders to achieve heightened levels of empowerment and involvement that exceed traditional project management practices. Upon acquisition, it becomes imperative to consistently uphold the license throughout the project’s lifespan, demanding active management.

Why is the SLO important?

The Social License to Operate is fundamental for several reasons. First, it allows companies to operate with greater security and stability of operations, reducing the risks and costs involved in social conflicts associated with mismanagement in this area. A community that actively participates in the benefits that projects can bring, joins the company’s efforts to make them prosper, and is less likely to generate conflicts or blockades.

Another crucial aspect of maintaining a robust SLO is the substantial enhancement of an organization’s reputation. Effective management showcases the company’s responsibility and dedication to sustainable development, resonating with conscientious consumers who prioritize proper environmental and community stewardship by businesses. Such positive reputation attracts and retains customers who seek out socially responsible companies that prioritize the well-being of the environment and local communities.

The SLO presents new avenues for business growth. Companies possessing this license gain access to untapped markets and customers who prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. Consequently, it contributes to the sustainable development of communities. Companies that obtain the SLO typically invest in social and environmental initiatives that bring benefits to the communities in which they operate. Such investments foster positive relationships, promote local development, and create a mutually beneficial environment for both the company and the community.

Brief description of the step-by-step to obtain the Social License to Operate

Conduct a context analysis:

  • Understand the social, economic, political and environmental environment in which the company operates.
  • Identify the key stakeholders with whom you need to interact to obtain the SLO, such as the community, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and other interest groups.
  • Assess the expectations and concerns of these key stakeholders.
  1. Establish an SLO policy:
  • Define the company’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainable development.
  • Establish clear principles for SLO management.
  • Assign responsibilities within the company for the implementation of the SLO policy.
  1. Build relationships with the community:
  • Establish effective communication channels with the community, such as public meetings, newsletters and social networks.
  • Promote dialogue and community participation in decision-making.
  • Demonstrate transparency and accountability in all activities.
  1. Implement social responsibility programs:
  • Develop and implement programs that benefit the community, such as educational, health, employment, and economic development projects.
  • Involve the community in the definition and execution of these programs.
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of these programs in the community.

Possible problems to be observed

Lack of understanding on the part of the community regarding the activities of a given company may contribute to the generation of mistrust, due to knowledge of negative experiences. The impossibility of establishing a dialogue with the community can also trigger conflicts in the future.

Considering the business perspective, it is important to factor in the capacity to execute social responsibility initiatives aimed at mitigating adverse effects. Furthermore, it is crucial to closely monitor any alterations in legislation or regulations that have an impact on, or contribute to, the management of the Social License to Operate.

What can Socionaut do to help companies in Argentina acquire the Social License to Operate?

Socionaut is a company specialized in SLO management for projects in complex contexts. Its consultants have been exposed to mining, oil, infrastructure, and energy megaprojects, to which it has contributed throughout the different project cycles. Its team of experts can help you to:

  • Conduct a context analysis
  • Establish an SLO policy
  • Build sustainable community relationships
  • Implement social responsibility programs

In addition to:

  • Identify key stakeholders with whom you need to interact to obtain the SLO.
  • Develop effective communication plans to inform the community about your activities
  • Implementing social responsibility programs that benefit the community
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of your activities on the community.

Socionaut brings forth its expertise and knowledge to support you in designing and carrying out sustainable projects. These projects are aligned with the goal of achieving Sustainable Livelihood Outcomes (SLO) and nurturing enduring relationships with stakeholders, particularly the communities within your sphere of influence. Visit their website to explore further details on how they can assist you in attaining your business objectives sustainably.