Some damning pieces in the Huffington Post make for interesting reading today. They’ve teamed up with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to do a series on the consequences of resettlement around some of the World Bank’s projects, including the (in)famous Yanacocha project in Peru.
I’ve lots more to say about this but, in summary, I think this is the achilles heel of mining CSR. I saw some good CSR work being done by mining companies last year but pretty much every resettlement project I saw on my travels was woefully inadequate. Resettled communities are almost always left materially worse off. Worryingly, very few mining employees could tell me hand-on-heart that they had seen resettlement ‘done right’. One common problem is that houses are replaced but not livelihoods; but really this is just one of a very long list of issues.
The truth is that ‘doing resettlement right’ is really really hard and complicated. We desperately need some good quality research on this issue and some tighter guidelines around World Bank projects. Hats off to HuffPo and ICIJ on this one, I really hope it leads to more attention, debate, research and, above all, action on this issue.