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Effective Stakeholder Consultation with RSBNews Certifications , Environment , News & Innovation , RSB Updates , Smallholder Programmes ,
Stakeholder engagement and consultation is a key focus for the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials – we know and understand that no process of sustainable development can be truly effective or meaningful without incorporating the voices of community members, civic organisations, local government, industry, advocacy groups, the specially impacted, and others. By carrying out meaningful stakeholder consultations, projects can unlock many benefits that not only support community cohesion, but also the long-term success of the project.
In order to support bioeconomy projects to comply with RSB’s requirements for a truly inclusive and representative stakeholder consultation process, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials has developed extremely robust guidelines to support organisations – at any stage of their sustainability journey. These guidelines can be implemented as part of the RSB certification process, during the development of a supply chain in due diligence and in many other situations, and are supported by RSB’s expert team via consultation and advisory services.
Benefits of RSB’s stakeholder engagement programme
• Allows interested and affected parties to participate in the decision-making – giving them more control and security;
• Shares information and facilitates understanding;
• Builds legitimacy and support for decisions;
• Fosters constructive working relationships among communities, companies and government;
• Builds consensus and generates support for projects;
• Reduces conflict in biofuel/biomaterial communities;
• Taps into the local and specialist knowledge of stakeholders to inform the assessment and the design of the proposed development; and
• Improves the end decision and increases the possibility of ensuring sustainability.
Free, Prior and Informed Consent
In all cases, the RSB engagement process uses the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) – which ensures the rights of affected parties to self-determination and self-governance based on consent and not just consultation. While this is a higher bar of stakeholder engagement, it has a huge number of benefits and not only supports the long-term success of projects but provides a level of credibility and assurance for project proponents that is unmatched elsewhere. RSB’s approach to stakeholder consultation is based on the belief that those effected by a project have a right to participate in decision-making and FPIC ensures that this participation is meaningful.
Free – from coercion, intimidation or manipulation
Prior – consultation begins sufficiently prior to start of any proposed activity to allow for the community to come to a decision
Informed – where the community is fully informed about the project, its risks and impacts, and of the consultation processes in a culturally-appropriate, accessible and timely manner
Consent – where the community has the opportunity to either grant or withhold consent
Initially designed to ensure the proper consultation and consent of indigenous peoples affected by development projects, FPIC is applied by RSB in all stakeholder consultation processes. We believe that the proper implementation of FPIC should create a ‘level playing field’ between all proposed project stakeholders, establishing equitable agreements between communities, states and companies where all rights-holders are respected, benefits are shared, and grants projects a ‘social license to operate’.
An effective and integrated strategy
While the idea of implementing a rigorous and robust stakeholder consultation process may be intimidating, the RSB had developed an extremely effective and integrated strategy for ensuring truly participative, meaningful engagement based on the principles of FPIC. This strategy involves in-depth guidance tools for identifying stakeholders systematically, ensuring inclusivity and representativeness, and the analysis of these stakeholders to categorise them and build a map of how they relate to one another. Next, the RSB assists in planning the engagement process based on the many different factors that will affect the process, including the types of stakeholder, their ability and willingness to participate, availability, language, distribution, access to information, cultural norms and more. This allows suitable engagement strategies to be built for various groups, levels of impact and interest, as well as the ability to participate.
Once stakeholders have been identified and analysed, the RSB engagement process assists facilitators to plan and implement the participation process. Guidelines and methodologies on managing the process are supported by tools for involving marginalised and vulnerable groups, and guidance on different participatory techniques, managing documentation, handling conflict, supporting consensus-building and overcoming common difficulties in the process.
Why choose the RSB stakeholder engagement model
By enabling affected parties to raise concerns about environmental, social, legal and other issues, organisations that have implemented our stakeholder engagement process have been able to build consensus, strong community support and relationships that enable them to manage risk and develop sustainably. The RSB is able to provide in-depth advice, support, tools, guidance and more to organisations looking for effective, credible stakeholder engagement with long-term benefits.