Communicating with and listening to local communities that may be affected by company activities is a Gran Tierra priority. Many of Gran Tierra’s social investments focus on economic development, such as productive and business development initiatives which are critically important in post-conflict areas. Another priority for many local communities in rural areas are programs that strengthen capacities and leadership.
GTE has developed a social investments strategy that reflects the results of a broad study of community and GTE management. The strategy recognizes that two of the Company’s most important commitments are to build trusting relationships and to be a good neighbour. The objective is for the company to be a trusted partner with the communities near its operations. Among its many provisions, the strategy calls for social investments to:
- Be tangible and measurable
- Align with business, Colombian and international social impact standards
- Improve community feedback
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 Familiarization Trips (Fam Trips), which involves encouraging stakeholders to visit production sites and observe the Company’s practices, particularly with respect to operations and the environment. 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. Some visitors come from areas near current operations and some are from areas where GTE is planning to operate.
In 2021, three FamTrips were hosted, two in the Middle Magdalena Valley and one in Putumayo. Guests in attendance included National and local government officials from Cesar and mentees from the Mentorship program created by the joined efforts of Gran Tierra Energy and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The FamTrip hosted in the Putumayo took the group to the Costayaco Field, Costayaco Forestry Centre, and the Suruma Museum. In the Middle Magdalena Valley, the groups visited GTE’s Acordionero field.
Gran Tierra Te Escucha: An Open Door for the Community
As part of its efforts to maintain a strong, positive relationship with local communities, Gran Tierra has local offices that are part of a program called “Gran Tierra Te Escucha" (Gran Tierra Listens). The role of each office is to create a physical, easily accessible channel for community members to engage in two-way communications with the company.
Community members are encouraged to visit the offices in an effort to uncover potential concerns, which are referred to as Petitions, Complaints and Grievances (PQR’s). This important feedback from community partners can highlight opportunities for improvement or specific issues that the company must respond to. 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?
Gran Tierra Energy can measure the effectiveness of its grievance management process through the number of PQRs, the higher the numbers of petitions, questions, complaints, or claims (PQRs) indicate that communities feel comfortable engaging with the company.
|TE ESCUCHA OFFICE LOCATION
(up to December 2021)
|San Martín, Cesar||33|
Gran Tierra Te Escucha has been an important avenue for communities to communicate with the Company in Ecuador as well. Even though a physical office has not yet opened, Gran Tierra Te Escucha channels, including email and WhatsApp, received approximately 124 PQRs during 2021 which were resolved in an average of 1.5 days.
For more information on Gran Tierra’s Te Escucha program, visit our Community Queries page here.
How Gran Tierra Handles Petitions, Complaints and Claims
Gran Tierra respects the evolving relationships with local communities and the Company has continued to build relationships based on mutual understanding and acceptance. Gran Tierra seeks to provide quality, timely, coherent, efficient and responsible responses that build trust, manage expectations and minimize environmental risks.
Whether Gran Tierra has delegated an activity or performed it directly, GTE is committed to being responsible for how it is carried out. This 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.
There are four in-person and correspondence-based channels that people can use to file petitions, complaints and claims. These are screened and go through the documentation centre and the coordination centre. Everything is coded with a report received in real time at Gran Tierra’s headquarters in Canada and 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 3-12 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 GTE’s senior management team on a regular basis.
To see the ways to submit a PQR visit our Community Queries page here.
Gran Tierra in My Community
Gran Tierra en Mi Comunidad (Gran Tierra in My Community) strengthens community ties, by promoting spaces for recreation, community service and cultural exchanges in the areas near Gran Tierra’s operations. The Company works hard to align these efforts with the priorities of local communities and their representatives.
Gran Tierra supported community-led activities such as environmental training, traditional games, theatre, and music in communities across Putumayo, Cauca, Cesar and Santander departments. These events, attended by more than 4,900 kids, youth and adults, are also part of Colombia’s national “Brujula” program which instills principles of personal, social and familial coexistence. Out of more than 300 participating municipalities, the program in Rionegro which is focused on victims of violence, was recognized as one of the top 20 in Colombia by Colombian NGO Corporación Juego y Ninez (Game and Childhood Corporation), for the past two years.
“GTE’s contributions to our community have made it into an incredible partner for us, and now we are seeing results materialize. Our municipality is stronger as a result of the dialogue, agreements and social endeavors that we have worked on together.”RUBÈN DARÍO VILLABONA PÈREZ, Mayor, Rionegro
First Community Benefit Agreements
Inspired by its operating philosophy of Beyond Compliance, Gran Tierra in 2017 began using a new community engagement tool in Colombia—Community Benefit Agreements / Acuerdo Comunitario de Convivencia. This tool has proven to be successful in Canada in establishing mutually respectful and beneficial relationships between oil operators and local communities. A Community Benefit Agreement / Acuerdo Comunitario de Convivencia is a binding contract negotiated and executed between a company and communities that may be impacted by a proposed project. Under this framework agreement, the communities obtain important benefits, and in return, the company receives the support it needs to proactively manage both benefits and grievances related to its projects.