The objective of the Devonshire Initiative (DI) is improved social and community development outcomes in communities where our members operate.
The DI believes that collaboration is the preferred avenue by which to reach this objective. The DI works to develop a constructive space in which stakeholders can discuss complex problems facing mining and development, identify common opportunities, and develop innovative on-the-ground collaboration.
The DI sees industry/NGO collaboration and strong linkages with both Canadian and local institutions as a means to an end. The DI provides four specific areas of value addition to its members and stakeholders:
- Opening dialogue that creates a better understanding of, and that deepens engagement on, social and community development components of CSR work being done by Canadian mining companies operating in developing countries;
- Enhancing cross-sector Canadian engagement with, and understanding of community development issues;
- Sharing innovations and best practices within the mining and development community; and,
- Enhancing in-country capacity to allow communities, regions and countries to more visibly realize the benefits of Canadian mining investments.
The Story of the DI
Why the DI?
Mining is a reality in many developing and emerging countries. It is an industry that can provide jobs, revenue for the national government and communities, and broader economic development.
We also know that without adequate consideration of social, environmental and governance issues, mining can have negative impacts. The DI supports its members to maximize the benefits while mitigating the potential unintended consequences.
There is an increasing dialogue around corporate social responsibility and best practices in sustainable community development, particularly in Canada, given the number of major mining companies headquartered in Canada.
Development NGOs have experience with community development and the communities with which they work are impacted by private sector operations, including those of the mining industry. The private sector has industry expertise but may need support when engaging with communities.
The realities of mining’s impact in Canada and overseas, combined with the silos of knowledge and experience, all suggest an opportunity to “do mining better,” together.
The DI was founded on the belief that the Canadian mining and NGO presence in emerging markets can be a force for positive change. The group came into being on March 5, 2007 at an initial workshop conducted at the University of Toronto on cross-sector partnerships. The workshop featured a case study of the Kimberley Process on Conflict Diamonds. The idea of a multi-stakeholder forum to facilitate learning and collaboration on mining emerged and led to the founding of the DI.
Before the DI, there was no iterative, long-term venue in Canada to build relationships, trust, and partnerships between the private sector and development NGOs.
What began as a series of workshops and meetings aimed at busting myths and incubating collaboration, the DI has become an important forum for mining companies and international NGOs to:
- Dialogue, for learning and sharing, and for building understanding and trust based on shared values;
- Evolve and improve their practice as development and sustainability practitioners, by connecting them to new approaches, new thinking, new initiatives, and tools; and
- Build relationships, to network, and foster collaboration.
What does the DI do?
The DI seeks to open the communication channels between stakeholder groups involved in the extractives sector by providing a space for meeting, learning, and dialogue. It holds both members-only workshops and workshops open to broader networks.
These workshops enable discussions that take place under the “Chatham House Rules” — whereby the participants are free to share information but agree they won’t identify “who said what” outside of the group. This has allowed members to find common ground and work on shared goals, even if public positions may differ in some respects.
By providing this forum, the DI has facilitated knowledge exchange, silo breakdown, and trust building. Through these open lines of communication, the DI’s members work to find more sustainable and holistic responses to mining and community development issues.
The DI also provides the space for members to establish working groups to explore topics in greater depth or to take on a specific challenge. For example, in 2012, a working group of the DI set up to explore how to understand better whether communities where mining activity is present are getting better or are becoming worse off. The output from that working group is the Beyond Zero Harm Framework (BZH), which is a participatory process for discussing, defining, measuring and analyzing community well-being.
What does the DI not do?
The DI does not represent any single stakeholder group. It is not a platform for industry, a voice of the development community, a lobby group or a tool of the government, an advocate for indigenous people or environmental issues.
The DI does not represent or advocate one single viewpoint other than our founding belief that collaborative private sector and NGO presence in emerging markets can be a force for positive change.
The DI does not conduct programming or field activities. Any visits to the field are for collaborative learning purposes and to enable its membership to build the capacity to work better in the challenging environments in which mining often occurs. While mining most clearly impacts local and indigenous populations — and the DI encourages members to include their local counterparts in events and workshops — the DI does not directly focus on building capacity or empowerment at the community level.
The DI is not a partnership. As a forum, it may facilitate partnerships to form between members, but members are free to act independently. Members also have their own independent views on mining and community development issues, representing a wide spectrum of opinions.
Staff and Steering Committee
The DI is headed by a Director, supported by an Advisor, who reports to a Steering Committee made up of 6-8 members with equal representation from the NGO and industry members.
- David Clarry
- Santiago Alba Corral
- Nadine Grant
- Wendy Harris
- Simon Jimenez
- Harry Kits
- Benjamin Little
- Ed Opitz