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Prepare communities before engaging Engagement can only be effective if the right people are engaged and if those stakeholders are given transparent information about the processes and how potential impacts might affect them. Providing full access and information about the project should be undertaken at the outset of project identification.

Determine what level of engagement is needed The level of engagement and respective investment in managing community engagement should be commensurate with the size of the project on the one hand and the anticipated level of impact, in particular negative impacts, on local communities on the other. Informing, consulting and negotiating are all community engagement processes that can be undertaken, although the approach will depend on the level of engagement.

Integrate community engagement into each phase of the project cycle

Engagement throughout the project cycle (i.e. from pre-feasibility, feasibility, construction, operation and decommissioning) can create stronger relationships with communities. Particular attention should be given during the feasibility stage of a project where communities can help define and provide feedback for environmental and social impacts assessments (ESIA). In the same line, during operation, a monitoring and evaluation system should allow communities to verify adherence to the environmental and social manage-ment plan that arises from the ESIA.

Include traditionally excluded stakeholders Groups excluded from a community engagement process are often those that are already and tradition-ally marginalized within the community. To identify these marginalized groups within a community, a social assessment process is necessary to differentiate characteristics by gender, ethnicity, religion, age, or other characteristics and associated interests.

Gain free, prior, and informed consent

“Free prior and informed consent [FPIC] is a collective expression of support for a proposed project by potentially affected communities reached through an independent and self-determined decision-making process undertaken with sufficient time, and in

accordance with their cultural traditions, customs and practices. Such consent does not necessarily require support from every individual” (WRI, 2009). An instance where FPIC is most appropriate is when the project developer suggests that a community relinquish a collective legal right, such as customary land owner-ship. To achieve FPIC, community consultations should occur during the feasibility phase and must allow adequate time for communities to deliberate.

Resolve community grievances through dialogue A project level grievance mechanism, ideally estab-lished from the earliest stages of project preparation, can assist ongoing mitigation of risks and provide a cheaper and faster way to resolve grievances than formal external mechanisms. “Grievance mechanisms are a systematic method for recording, negotiating, and resolving disputes between project proponents and local communities (WRI, 2009).” For a grievance mechanism to function effectively, the project propo-nent must a) clarify possible remedies to identified grievances, b) set aside adequate budget and staff resources for the mechanism, and c) undertake regular joint reviews with the community on the outcomes and effectiveness of the grievance mechanism.

Promote participatory monitoring by local communities

Engagement is only effective if it is informed, and without transparent information on project compliance there are risks that communities may turn against the project even if agreements are adhered to. Participatory monitoring instead can be a way to build trust among communities. “Participatory monitoring is a process through which local communities systemati-cally track the impacts of a project, and work jointly with proponents to resolve key concerns that are detected (IFC, 2007).” Communities may need capacity support through training and independent technical advice, or by setting up multi-stakeholder monitoring schemes in which communities participate alongside technical experts.

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