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Below are my views of the various presentations heard at CIM2017 in Montreal, during the Technical session towards improving environmental social disclosure NI43-101.
My views have been inspired by various talks, from various speakers, who shed some light on this multi-faceted theme, each one coming from his or her own line of business and interest, including myself.
There was a broad consensus that risks are not only “technical” matters any more. The scope of risk has significantly broadened to cover environmental, social, governance issues, consequences impacts.
The array of stakeholders has broadened as well including shareholders, communities, society, media, regulators.
In our modern world there is an increasing variety of information pathways going from press releases to disclosure, social media and even applications like Whatsapp. Of course risk is information and information is risk as stated in the first slide of our presentation.
That being said the “information hourglass model” with the public in the middle bottleneck, shareholders/interest groups and regulators on both opposing sides is still common. Gaps occur when needs of any stakeholder are not met and gaps are known to create “social risks”.
Of course risk is information and information is risk. This includes a much needed discussion on ethics (geo-ethics) as there is a difference between prudent vs. dishonest withholding of information, especially when early release could create undue alarm because of high potential for misunderstandings. It was noted that in ESG disclosure laws are the lowest standard, then come ethical exigencies that require stronger criteria. Along the same lines it was also noted that respectful relationship and significant participation are key…on top of what is nowadays generally considered sufficient.
Many noted that good practice is not the industry norm also because there is a clear lack of standards relating to ESG. Defining good practice or “best practices” is indeed difficult in the present state of the art.
Many also concurred in saying that the needs of different stakeholders have to be studied and understood, and adaptive communication has to be developed. One size does not fit all especially when the need is present to inform stakeholders that cannot understand, do not have the necessary knowledge:
Yet, the incentive is there for the industry to get better as there are reportedly 25B$ of projects stalled because of social resistance.
Talking about shareholders it was noted that the ranks of responsible investors, which integrate ESG in selection and management of investments is growing. These investors want to know what the exposures are and how they are managed. Needless to say I had the pleasure of showing how ORE allows to extract, from a single hazards-consequence-risks database all the information such an investor may need, monitor it in time and have the information available without having to “read” thousands of pages of EIA and other reports. ORE also offers the capability of comparing information among potential investments and to look at material sustainability topics.
The need to suppress the silo culture was stressed by many, especially when dealing with indigenous populations and communities which have a holistic view, making it difficult for them to focus, for example on one specific issue such as, for example, the environment. We could not agree more as Riskope has always championed this type of holistic view of risks and their consequences, talking about multi-dimensional consequence functions.
Of course many more aspects (Qualified Person, legal, etc.) were discussed during the Technical session towards improving environmental social disclosure NI43-101.
My aim today was not to give a full report but to highlight themes that were tackled by various speakers who shed some light on this multi-faceted theme, each one coming from his or her own line of business and interest, including myself.
I certainly look forward to a continuing dialog through the next Technical session towards improving environmental social disclosure NI43-101, if and when it will be organized.