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Victor Eremosele, Chambers Oyibo and a guest at CPI Forum

Young people face unique challenges and are especially vulnerable in uncertain environments. Limited access to resources, education, training, employment and a lack of economic opportunities constrain their prospects, and in some cases may push them to resort to violence like the Niger Delta Avengers.

Community Relations is thus to create a better understanding of the need to promote a democratic and equitable international order. Applying the principles of transparency, participation and accountability in order to strengthen their contributions to democratic governance and human rights. Community Relations with respect to Oil and Gas is an effort to promote good practices that demonstrate effective private-public partnership, the enforcement of labour rights and environmental protection, as well as the commitment of businesses to non-discrimination and other steps that respect human rights thus making Oil and Gas institutions more responsive. Community Relations in Oil and Gas in support of UN vision of new world order based on rights, social justice and equitable development. The believe that a new world order based on universal respect of human rights social justice, rule of law and equitable development is possible. It is to examine how Oil and Gas businesses pay due attention to the issues affecting the community and how to make such institutions more responsive and inclusive for sustainable development.

Environmental and social performance had indeed been problematic and, what is needed is a period of reflection and dialogue between the industry, the community and its critics. Environmental issues are the most common issues precipitating conflict, but behind these, socio-economic issues, and unmet expectations about consolation and consent, play an important role in shaping the broader Oil and Gas-community relationship.

COST OF CONFLICT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND LACK OF GOOD COMMUNITY RELATIONS

The greatest costs of conflict were identified as the opportunity costs arising from the inability to pursue projects and or opportunities for expansions for sale. It has led to suspensions of projects running into billions at times for investors.

There are many contextual reasons as to why the Oil and Gas industry has become subject to major local level resistance to its projects. Communities are now far more connected than they have ever been before. Communication technologies are driving advances in global democracy. Campaigns or agitations on one side of the world are now easily visible to people on the other.

However, the performance and the response of the industry is also a major factor. Many communities are not necessarily opposed to Oil and Gas per se, they sometimes would just like to assert a more equal platform for development to occur on their own terms. The practice of Community Relations has in so many instances been patchy and ad hoc, but there is actually a way of doing this work properly. Management often turn to Community Relations staff for advice during the heat of conflicts. This has been termed as post-crises recognition regression.

Many companies have not chosen the path of greater dialogue with their critics. Instead they have chosen the public relations and communications path and attempted to convince communities of the benefits of Oil and Gas. Many have also increased the level of direct social investment in local communities as a means to win support. It is true that social investments are also undertaken because of development demands of local communities and governments, and due to the lack of government investment in services and infrastructure in many of the regions where many companies operate. But when searched into the specific activities that are supported by this investment it will be seen that much of the spending is uncoordinated and is not strategic, even from a business risk perspective.

It is discovered that the majority of social investments were not even in areas that were identified as a risk to the Oil and Gas project from a corporate perspective, let alone development priorities of the community. Only a minority of these investments were undertaken in areas defined as high risk by the company. Where social investments are made, there is much potential to better align and coordinate activities to meet human development and corporate objectives.

The greatest threat to success of Oil and Gas industry in the next five years could be from highest expectations from communities. This has been considered as greatest future threat.

However, the industry is coming to fully realize the power of local communities, at an important juncture in the global Oil and Gas sector. Some companies are shedding jobs, they are also signaling that the role of community relations professionals as a form of asset protection has yet to be fully understood or embedded within the corporate consciousness.

OBJECTIVES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND WAYS TO ACHIEVE WELFARE

The aim of sustainable development is to balance economic, environmental and social needs, allowing prosperity for future generations. These include social progress and equality, environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and stable economic growth. 2015-2030: a world landscape of poverty and inequalities, with a new agenda first and foremost, it is important to realize that the international social, geopolitical and economic context has changed dramatically in fifteen years.

New emerging countries are becoming increasingly present in the world economy and their investments have increased exponentially. Social cohesion is at the centre of these issues. Governance can no longer be synonymous with domination, social needs must be met in order to prevent risks of conflict. Given the extraordinary scale of worldwide inequalities, the planet is suffering from a combination of widespread poverty and serious pressure.

Consequently, inclusive and sustainable development, which combines environmental, social and economic issues seems to be the only solution.

It is the commitment made by the 193 member states of the United Nations in New York on 26 and 27 September, 2014. Taking over from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the 17 Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs) define the priorities for the next fifteen years. Between now and 2030, the world should, “Put an end to the ancient scourges of extreme poverty and hunger rather than contribution to the deteriorating of our planet and allowing intolerable inequalities to create resentment and generate desperation.” Without sufficient financial commitment and without criteria to adopt real solutions that will enable sustainable development and a transformative agenda, the SDGs will not be reached.

The SDGs cover a large spectrum of areas and should, if they are reached, bring closer to an ideal world, without inequalities or discrimination and based on a sustainable system.

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