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Government Review of the CSR Strategy for the Extractive Sector

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Corporate Social Responsibility Law Bulletin

On December 12, 2013, the Ministry of International Trade of the Government of Canada announced the commencement of a five-year review of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Extractive Sector, a strategy which was initially adopted in March 2009. The CSR Strategy is aimed at encouraging Canadian extractive companies operating overseas to adopt responsible social and environmental policies and practices.

As part of the review process, there is an opportunity for all those interested to submit comments to the Government on-line before January 8, 2014. More information regarding the submission is available on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s CSR website.

What is the CSR Strategy?

In March 2009, the Government of Canada announced Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector.

The four pillars of the Strategy are:

1.  Support for host country capacity-building initiatives related to resource governance and for host countries to benefit from these resources to reduce poverty;

2.  Promote the following widely-recognized voluntary international CSR performance guidelines:

(a)  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;

(b)  The International Finance Corporation Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability;

(c)  The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and

(d)  The Global Reporting Initiative

3.  The Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor;

4.  The development of the Centre for Excellence in CSR.

Considered as a central element of the CSR Strategy, the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor has two roles: (1) advisory; and (2) dispute resolution. The track record of the CSR Counsellor in this second role has come under some criticism and will likely be a focus of comments in this review process. During the past five years, six cases for dispute resolution were opened, three did not proceed, one case was sent back to a company’s internal process and two remain open.

Fasken Martineau's CSR Practice Group has experience in the legal and practical aspects of sustainable resource development around the world. Our broad base of expertise ranges from government relations and environmental best practices to indigenous and Aboriginal relations, and social and community engagement.

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