Advising international companies

The Terra Group advises major international companies on social investment, stakeholder engagement and community development in remote areas, especially where government is largely absent or ineffective. Since 1995, we have assisted nearly 20 mining, oil and gas companies in designing successful programs in Africa, Latin America and Asia. These programs have involved as many as 850,000 people in the Niger Delta (Case Study) and as few as 200 in Indonesia, Kazakhstan and the Amazonian countries. We have also assisted several clients in developing their own corporate standards and management systems for social issues.

In our experience, international companies and development agencies usually face these common challenges:

  • Avoiding corruption in development projects and maximizing their effectiveness.
  • Understanding latent conflicts within and among communities, and taking pro-active steps to minimize or avoid exacerbating them.
  • Ensuring participation by marginal social groups in the company’s development planning.
  • Preventing “elite capture” of project management or benefits.
  • Ensuring equity and fairness among project beneficiaries.
  • Mitigating inequalities between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries – for example, between indigenous and non-indigenous communities, or between “directly impacted” communities and indirectly impacted ones.
  • Achieving sustainable and measurable development outcomes (e.g., increased literacy or household income, improved health), rather than “spreading money around.”

In recent years, major companies have increasingly focused on meeting international social and environmental standards. Since 1995, Terra Group has assisted its clients in understanding and complying with such standards, including World Bank Group safeguards (and their regional development bank counterparts), the Equator Principles, International Labor Organization Agreement 169 and similar policies.

Assisting international agencies

Terra Group partners have worked with many of the agencies that design and apply international standards. For example, Dr. Wasserstrom has served as a key advisor to IFC in reviewing and revising its Performance Standard 7 on Indigenous Peoples. In this role, he has analyzed how IFC’s professional staff determine whether proposed mining and hydrocarbon projects meet the agency’s standards for free, prior and informed consent or consultation (FPIC), broad community support (BCS), community participation and other requirements. (Robert Wasserstrom and Robert Gerrits, “Assessing the Potential Impact on Extractive Industries of IFC’s Revised Social Standards,” presented at the SPE Americas HSE Conference, Galveston, Texas, 18 March, 2013.)

For a complete list of recent Terra Group international projects, see Selected Projects.