Socio-environmental monitoring

We manage our relationships with local communities by taking a variety of approaches such as socio-environmental monitoring. Communities are at the core of the decision-making processes of the projects carried out by extractive companies in their areas of influence. In many cases, the implementation of these activities affects the socio-environmental components of the territories where indigenous peoples and rural communities live, causing direct and indirect impacts on them. 

Río selva amazónica

What is socio-environmental monitoring and what does it consist of?

Socio-environmental monitoring is a tool that serves to permanently follow up on work with observation, measurement of indicators (economic, social, cultural, and environmental), evaluations of variations in environmental aspects and conditions produced by an activity, work, project, or service.

Monitoring is the periodic recording of observations on the development or state of a process or situation of interest over time and in a given area in order to determine whether the process or situation is changing.

Therefore, as a standard practice, these processes have been incorporated into extraction activity, beginning with a public consultation promoted by the state and involving the community from the outset. This leads to the planning of activities to assess and mitigate impacts and, in some way, contribute to the economic and social development of the areas of influence, which has repercussions on the country’s social development.

Socio-environmental monitoring is characterized by:

  • An ongoing dialogue between the company and indigenous organization. 
  • The shared decision to carry out activities in the framework of participatory planning. 
  • The company's respect for the community's own vision of development. 
  • The training of a team of socio-environmental monitors, who will have the task of monitoring compliance with the agreements.
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A win-win situation for everyone

Socio-environmental monitoring was carried out in four municipalities and five Guaraní zonal capitanías in Bolivia. "It was important to observe that throughout the seismic implementation process, the rights of indigenous people were respected and their opinions were considered in the design and planning of the activities," said Lorena Terrazas, Pazinde's coordinator.

This was confirmed by the testimony given by the representative of the local territories and member of the group of monitors, Vicente Ferreyra. He acknowledged that, during the two years of the process, there were tense moments of discussion with the company, which "respected the position of our people" and recalled that there were strong warnings for employees of the contractors, some of whom were also removed. This even included members of the Guaraní communities, because "we cannot allow them not to comply with the rules." 

The results were positive and beyond the circumstantial problems that occurred, there was coordination at different levels and "today I can say that we started well, we ended well," said the leader, who highlighted the respect for the territory and the customs and traditions of the Guaraní nation. 

Diego Román, Director of the Bolivia Business Unit, highlighted that the success of this process reflects the way our company acts, framed in policies and standards that emphasize establishing long-term relationships with the community and detecting and mitigating risks constantly in a process of due diligence. 

Marco Mendoza, one of the heads of the study, highlighted the degree of participation of the Guaraní community and the company's respect for its representative organizations. "It has been shown here that dialogue is possible and that it is possible to work without confrontation. It is a recognition of the indigenous peoples and the participation of women in this process must be highlighted," he stated. He is also convinced that this type of practice is a path to business sustainability.

Community training for young people

The socio-environmental monitoring included representatives —mostly young people— from five regional capitanías, who were previously trained to carry out an adequate technical task. It was aimed at monitoring compliance with the commitments made by the company at the time of the project's formulation.

Mujer indígena de Bolivia

Lorena Terrazas affirmed that this experience strengthens the organizational capacity of the communities and the involvement of new actors who become leaders, whose contribution with local vision and monitoring allows corrective elements to be introduced and ensures these projects are implemented, mitigating their environmental impact.  

The fieldwork began in 2013 and concluded in 2015. At the end of the seismic work, the process was closed and a certificate of conformity was signed by the CCCH, after the monitors corroborated that the company complied with the remediation work and the necessary actions to mitigate the impact of an extractive activity that allowed new horizons of development to be visualized in the Caipipendi Contract Area. 

Today, indigenous socio-environmental monitoring is a standard practice of the CCCH and Repsol is extending it to the municipalities. In addition, the company's experience serves as the basis for a manual that is being developed for the sector.