Center on Sustainable Investment Advances Chilean Social Intervention Project

January 23, 2019

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), in partnership with stakeholder engagement consultancy Dinámica Plataforma, has advanced with a social intervention project in the Huasco Valley, located in northern Chile’s Atacama Region.

CCSI - a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute - and Dinámica Plataforma are working with the local communities in building consensus regarding the environmental, social and economic impact and reach of NuevaUnión, a greenfield copper and gold mining project being developed by Canadian companies Teck and Goldcorp. The project is to be evaluated within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In parallel to the corresponding environmental impact studies, NuevaUnión is looking to build and maintain social legitimacy, ensuring sustainable development for Huasco Province, helping the province to leverage the positive links from mining developments while mitigating negative environmental and social risks. The stakeholders, including the local authorities, Diaguita as well as other indigenous peoples, and other local residents, worked to build a shared vision of the province’s future and develop a roadmap based on pillars that focus on a sustainable, integrated Huasco that maintains its human and natural essence.

Within this context, CCSI senior economic and policy researcher Nicolas Maennling held a workshop in June 2018 with the municipality’s technical team to present a diagnostic on Huasco’s positioning with respect to the United Nations SDGs and help to define the province’s development needs, and another such meeting was held with a board of representatives from civil society.

Specifically, CCSI performed a gap analysis to determine what data was available in the province and map that against the SDG framework in order to match priorities with data systems to define and monitor targets in the development plan to be established. The center also reviewed all of the municipal development plans (called “pladecos”) within Huasco province to define bottlenecks and recommend how to overcome them in defining provincial priorities.

The first meeting bringing the three parties together: municipal and government authorities, indigenous groups, and members of civil society, took place in Freirina, Huasco Province, in December, when the first draft of the roadmap was presented. The stakeholders then provided feedback and additional input, and the final version was agreed upon in March 2019. The resulting “Roadmap to Sustainable Development of Hausco Province” outlines the results of this work.

The next step is to develop a data-driven development plan based on the priorities defined in the roadmap. Yet one of the main barriers to achieving this is the lack of data availabile at the sub-national level. As such, CCSI will look to create a data collection system with SDG-aligned metrics.

The system will allow municipal, provincial and national government authorities and stakeholders to define measurable targets in the long-term development strategy. At the same time an online monitoring system would support local governments’ fact-based decision-making and boost transparency on progress toward development outcomes.

Currently, NuevaUnión is looking for co-funding from the government and other stakeholders, as well as from a German development agency, in order to advance on the Huasco plan and establish data systems and monitoring systems, according to Maennling.