“You have to create jobs, contribute to social welfare and respect the communities”

Prior consultation is based on the right of peoples to decide their priorities in any development process, evaluating how much a project can affect their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being.

From this, the doubt arises about the role of the companies, the executors of the projects, works or activities, when establishing dialogue scenarios with the communities to make decisions that generate benefits for both parties.

In the LR Forum Sustainability: How do companies relate to communities? The Director of Sustainability of Grupo Energía Bogotá, Eduardo Montealegre, highlighted that companies have challenges in collective action, information management, multiplicity of actors, conflict zones and the pandemic. To do this, “it is key to provide pedagogy and knowledge to the population, to make them aware of the actual impacts that are going to be generated, both positive and negative, with a responsible management of the expectations of the communities,” he said.

Faced with this panorama, the Vice Minister for Participation and Equal Rights, Carlos Baena, pointed out that the right of the communities to be consulted should be guaranteed so that the investments become a reality. For this to be effective, the sustainability directors highlighted what aspects should be taken into account in these processes.

How to have effective communication?

On how to correctly reach the communities when entering their territories for a project, Eduardo Montealegre, director of Sustainability at GEB, pointed out that the company has developed pillars that facilitate this task, which are based on the contribution to social welfare, job creation and respect for human rights.

“To build trust, you must know the customs, traditions and expectations of the communities. Respect for human rights is key in the relationship between companies and communities, ”he said.

A complex or friendly relationship

For Laura Villa, Vice President of Government and Sustainability of Transportadora de Gas Internacional (TGI), the relationship can be complex or friendly, depending on the challenges region of.

“Our fundamental role must be leading and framed in transparency. In Colombia, sustainable infrastructure projects can be developed ”, he said.

The role of the State in joint work

The projects stopped being purely engineering and began to work in order to be sustainable. With this premise, Gian Paolo Daguer, manager of Enel Group Innovation and Sustainability, stressed that “the State must improve regulations because companies are not going to replace the State, but we can bring institutionalism closer to the territory.”

Long-term and constructive process

When making this approach, organizations must manage a transparent and constructive communication with the populations that will be impacted and “not a mere procedure that the norm requires of us,” said Ana Milena Joya, EPM’s environmental and social manager, who added that no development must be brought to one region at the expense of the poverty of another.

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