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Community Engagement with Extractive Industries

Exploring the Development and Use of Biocultural Community Protocols To Help Secure Community Interests and Rights in Relation to Extractive Industries

mapNatural Justice and its regional partners in Argentina, India, Zimbabwe and Kenya, with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, are jointly supporting a project supporting a number of communities to develop community protocols in the context of extractive industries. Overall, the aim of the project is to identify good practices for the development and utilisation of community protocols as an instrument to better enable communities to proactively and constructively engage with extractive industries (and infrastructure projects, where relevant) to safeguard their rights and uphold others’ responsibilities.

CP Toolbox
Community Protocols Toolbox
29 Jun 2016
NEW (January 2017) Balancing the Scales
28 Dec 2016
Program Coordinator Jael Makagon provides an overview of the project:


The project aims to examine the considerations relevant to the effective development and use of community protocols in the context of extractive industries. These considerations are threefold and the action research guidance questions are divided into these three considerations:

  1. Structural and contextual considerations, including stakeholder mapping;
  2. Assessing the process design, intra-community dynamics and effectiveness of community protocols as a legal empowerment and community mobilisation tool; and
  3. Use of community protocols for external engagements.

The Framework Methodology

A concise and jointly developed framework methodology has been developed to guide the different community protocol processes and their facilitators, and to provide a framework for comparative assessment of experiences and lessons learned. It is located below. Whilst not exhaustive, it provides a roadmap for exploring community protocols in the context of extractive industries and sets out:

  • A background to community protocols;
  • Action research guidance questions to be completed by each partner to guide reflections on strategy in each individual case and to prepare for the symposium. These guidance questions are to be addressed before and during the process of developing a community protocol and during the use of the community protocol (see Figure 4 below). Six action research questions are also set out – these will be discussed at the symposium;
  • Guidelines and suggested approaches for developing and using community protocols;
  • Particular considerations and relevant information about the extractive industries sector;
  • Specific tools that may be useful in the process of developing a community protocol;
  • An outline for a legal review, which is intended to support the action research questions; and
  • Useful links to further information.
Exploring the development and use of Biocultural Community Protocols to help secure community interests and rights in relation to extractive industries
30 Apr 2013

The Timeline

The project timeline is as follows:


Report of the February 2015 mid-term meeting
14 Feb 2015

The Action Research Questions

In line with the approach of collaborative action research, community protocol processes in Africa, Asia and Latin America will explore guiding research questions through action, observation and analysis. Consideration and documentation of these questions will provide rich substance to discussions on 6 main Action Research Questions at the 2016 symposium and a context and structure for a publication that will be consolidated at the conclusion of the project:

  1. How can community protocol processes support communities in directly engaging and negotiating with companies and/or investors on the basis of free, prior and informed consent, community development agreements and other similar arrangements?
  2. How can community protocol processes support communities in engaging with governments to clarify, secure and enforce the protection of their territories, resources and ways of life, including all related rights, affected by extractive industries?
  3. At what stage of project development (i.e. exploration, feasibility and planning, construction, operation and closure and reclamation) can a community protocol have the greatest effect with respect to the engagements set out in questions 1 and 2? At what stage(s) is it least effective?
  4. How can community protocol processes support communities in using redress mechanisms (for instance, through documentation and legal empowerment)?
  5. How can community protocol processes support communities in addressing internal conflicts that arise in connection with extractive industries and large-scale investment projects (such as exclusion or resource control disputes)? What elements are/were essential to address the issue in an endogenous manner?
  6. What are general good practices and methodologies of community protocol processes that apply in this context, irrespective of the status of a project, the actors involved and the nature of the communities’ aspirations and expectations vis-à-vis the investment project?

The Partners and Regions


In Kenya, several indigenous communities in Lamu County on Kenya’s northern coast are working together to develop a community protocol to address a massive infrastructure project, and related oil, gas and coal exploration. Local partner Save Lamu, a community based organization, is facilitating the development of the community protocol. The protocol seeks to address inadequate assessments of the project’s impact, as well as the lack of appropriate consultation and consent at the beginning and during the project, unclear discussions around benefit sharing, and lack of resettlement plans, among other things.

Since 2011, much work has been done to develop the community protocol, including visits to over 40 villages to gather knowledge, legal training sessions and multi-stakeholder meetings. A draft of the community protocol document has been developed and released for feedback, and an ongoing process of community mapping has begun. In addition, the BCP has been used to engage with stakeholders, including UNESCO and local politicians. In the future, the BCP process will include participatory video mapping, further multi-stakeholder meetings and input on a cost benefit analysis of the project.

Khadija Shekuwe of Save Lamu discusses the impacts of the Lamu port project and proposed coal plant in Lamu county:


In Zimbabwe, a community in the Manicaland Province in eastern Zimbabe is under threat from diamond mining activities. Local partner Chiadzwa Community Development Trust is assisting the community in developing a community protocol. Some members have been relocated to make way for mining, while others have not. The community protocol will support the community’s engagement with government and mining companies. It will look to address the issue of proper compensation (on the community’s own terms, being compensation for what is on top of the land, as well as the natural resources used) and land (the community only has right of use and not land ownership). Issues of historic grievances, particularly over land, have also been raised.

In the last 12-18 months, over 20 community meetings on the community protocol have been held to discuss representation, governance structures and decision-making (amongst other things). Additionally, legal and negotiation training was held in which not only the communities developing the protocol participated but also other communities from all 10 provinces in Zimbabwe.

Mela Chiponda of CCDT discusses the impacts of diamond mining on communities in Zimbabwe:


In Argentina, communities in the north-western part of the country are involved in developing a community protocol with the assistance of local partner Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales. The communities have self-organised through a roundtable to engage and share information amongst themselves against a common threat – lithium mining. The objective of the protocol is to articulate the consultation and participation process and standards of participation and consultation from the communities upward. The goal of the protocol is to build the rights of communities into the national legal framework. The protocol aims to assist where the legal framework is not clear on how external actors interact with communities. The communities will use the protocol extensively as a tool for rights assertion.

In 2014 and 2015, a number of workshops were held in the communities involving initial discussions around the protocol, trainings and workshops on the relevant rights and standards, open debate and consensus building, and the collection of data. This has led to the finalization and publication of the community protocol, which is available below (Spanish only). Going forward, the community protocol may become an element of a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as evidence of what constitutes community “consultation” and “free prior and informed consent”.

Community Protocol on FPIC – Argentina
15 Dec 2015


In India, the community protocol is being developed in the state of Odisha with the assistance of local partner KIRDTI. The “community” for the purposes of the protocol process has evolved over time. Initially it consisted of members of a forest-dependent community, but the process has now expanded to include other groups who live in the same villages but who depend on work in mines for their livelihood. The purpose of the community protocol is to deal with various forms of mining systematically, revive traditions lost due to mining, and attempt to obtain title to land.

Over the last 12-18 months, the focus of facilitation of the BCP process has been to empower communities and support their mobilization, so that community members have a better sense that mining is something that they are able to engage with. In addition, the focus was to ensure that any advocacy strategies were as participatory as possible. The process has included participatory mapping of forest rights, legal training on the Forest Rights Act and other laws that support land tenure; and initial interactions with local authorities and existing companies.

Going forward, the process will work to incorporate the views of the two different communities into the protocol, as well as implementing a paralegal program and a community reflection process.