A Mid-Year Update for the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor

May 31, 2011

The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor was established in 2009 as part of the Government of Canada's CSR Strategy for the International Extractive Sector. Marketa Evans was appointed as the first Counsellor in October 2009, with a mandate to deliver a review process for the Canadian extractive sector overseas and to advise stakeholders on the new performance standards endorsed under the CSR Strategy. The Office provides potential access to remedy for project-affected people and communities overseas. The Office supports efforts to raise the CSR performance of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies abroad.

The Office opened in Toronto in March 2010. Our first year of operations focussed on constructing a credible, useful review process, learning from the decade of practice in this area, and from a proactive, fulsome conversation with potential users about their needs. After extensive consultations, we officially launched our Review Process on 20 October 2010.

What have we done since the launch of the Review Process?

Our key guiding principles: accessible, effective, independent, transparent, responsive, predictable.

We know that a process such as ours can't be considered "accessible" if no one knows it exists. So, in the first six months since our official launch, we have been actively getting the word out about the CSR Strategy, the Office and the process, using a variety of platforms and networks (host-country media, NGO networks, embassies, business associations, etc.). Our primary potential users are overseas project-affected people and communities, and Canadian mining, oil and gas companies. So, we've prioritized our outreach to connect with these groups. We also know that similar recourse processes receive a high proportion of ineligible requests – resulting in wasted time and effort. So, we've invested in creating supporting documents and communications around the Review Process to help potential users make informed decisions.

Highlights of our activities in the past six months:

  • Our first Advisory Panel meeting took place on 7 January 2010. A report of the meeting is available on our website.
  • We have connected with hundreds of individuals, many of who have joined our listserv, visited our website, and met with us in person.
  • We have responded to over 60 requests for information, from a broad variety of stakeholders.
  • Our learning partnership with the Ryerson Institute for the Study of CSR has held four public discussion seminars.
  • The Office participated in sizeable CSR events in Vancouver, Ottawa, Peru, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mexico, as well as the Annual PDAC Convention in Toronto. Since our launch on 20 October 2010, the Office has spoken at more than 30 outreach events and meetings, many have been multistakeholder.
  • Our first Report to the Parliament of Canada - outlining our progress and lessons learned - was tabled by the Minister of International Trade on 2 March 2011. It is available on our website.
  • We have begun work on our first request for review.
  • Our new Participant Guide has been launched, and our online FAQs significantly overhauled.