Communicating with and listening to local communities that may be affected by company activities is a Gran Tierra priority. In 2016 GTE conducted 846 meetings in 12 communities with a total of 17,297 people participating.
GTE has several programs that let people see first-hand what the company does to minimize the impact of its operations on the environment. One program is called Fam Trips, which involves encouraging families and journalists to visit production sites. This program has proved to be effective in countering myths some people have regarding industry practices, by providing basic information about hydrocarbons, and by providing basic information on how oil operations work. The visitors can take photos, and sometimes there are special programs for children. Some visitors come from areas near current operations and some are from areas where GTE is planning to operate. In 2017, GTE hosted 11 Fam Trips with approximately 300 people participating, at the Costayaco Field for the Putumayo basin communities and at the Angeles Field for the Middle Magdalena Valley Basin.
Gran Tierra Te Escucha: An Open Door for the Community
As part of its efforts to maintain a strong, positive relationship with local communities, on September 1 Gran Tierra opened a new community outreach office in San Martín, a town near most of the company’s operations in the Middle Magdalena Valley. This brings the total number of such offices to three with plans under development to open additional offices in Orito and Puerto Asís in 2018. The program is called “Gran Tierra Te Escucha,” (Gran Tierra Listens) and is based on the following principles:
- “We are always ready to listen to you so that we can understand your concerns.”
- “We want to be closer to you. Therefore we have different spaces and alternative ways for you to share your ideas with us and discuss them.”
- “Building plans and initiatives based on a combination of your ideas and ours contributes to our overall growth and the creation of sustainable relationships.”
The service offices have an open door policy so that GTE staff can hear from anyone who has questions or concerns. The offices are also places where people can learn information about what Gran Tierra is doing to protect the environment and maximize benefits for local communities.
In October 2016 GTE opened an office in Villagarzón, Putumayo. On a typical day, this office receives about 10 visitors from different municipalities. In addition to answering questions, the staff receives petitions, complaints and claims from job seekers and addresses concerns and grievances related to issues such as social programs and employment opportunities. Some of the most frequent questions include: Can GTE include more communities in its work participation programs? Can it provide more jobs? Can it help the local Planning Association’s (JAC’s) development issues?
Handling Petitions, Complaints and Claims
In 2016 Gran Tierra modified its grievance resolution process to reflect its evolving relationships with local communities, especially its effort to build relationships based on mutual understanding and acceptance. The company emphasized to people that GTE is an open door company and that it has adopted a grievance handling procedure that seeks to provide quality, timely, coherent, efficient, systematic and responsible responses that build trust, manage expectations and minimize environmental risks.
Underlying the procedure is Gran Tierra’s philosophy that whether it has delegated an activity or performed it directly, GTE is responsible for how it is carried out. The procedure embodies principles recommended by the World Bank Group and performance criteria that are set forth in the United Nations publication “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”
People have four in-person and correspondence-based channels they can use to file petitions, complaints and claims. These are screened and go through the documentation center and the coordination center. Everything is coded with a report received in real time at Gran Tierra’s headquarters in Canada. Regular reports are sent to senior management. An Effectiveness Committee meets every month, looking at trends. One database captures all of these interactions, and cases are expected to be investigated between 3 and 12 calendar days from when they were opened, if possible. To ensure that the system continues to improve, internal and external satisfaction surveys and performance statistics are reviewed by management on a regular basis.
The company received 189 grievances in 2016 with 100% of them successfully resolved.
The most common types of grievances involve:
- Social Investment
- Access to Land
- Procurement of Goods and Services
- Damages to Third Parties
- Information Processes with Stakeholders
- Operation Procedures
- Communications / Publications
- Previous Consultation