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

Familiarization Trips

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 2020, the company did not undertake any Fam Trips in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to prioritize the safety of our neighbours. In 2019, GTE hosted 25 Fam Trips with 275 people participating, at the Costayaco Field and at the 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.

Town, Department
(up to December 2020)
Villagarzón, Putumayo 42 6,576
San Martín, Cesar 31 4,690

In 2019, GTE also launched the Gran Tierra Te Esucha program in Quito, Ecuador to support its future operations there and is receiving and responding to inquiries. The company has been sharing its experiences and best practices in operations and sustainability with the Ecuadorian authorities to show how GTE’s approach to being a responsible operator will be applied in Ecuador.

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 modified its grievance resolution process in 2016 to reflect its 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.

The Process

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 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 GTE’s senior management team on a regular basis.

To see the ways to submit a PQR visit our Community Queries page here.

GTE Donates Parks to Two Neighbour Communities

In early 2017 two small towns near Gran Tierra’s operations in the Middle Magdalena Valley— Morrison and La Banca—asked Gran Tierra to create a public place for each of them where residents could gather with their families and connect as a community. Before the end of the year both towns were the proud owners of parks, donated by GTE, that met their needs.

GTE has a policy of promptly addressing community requests based on need assessments. Each of the company’s operations, from exploration to development, has a budget for community contributions proportional to the impact of that business activity on the community. Every year GTE holds workshops with communities to understand their needs and priorities. To maximize local benefits, approved projects are typically implemented through a local contractor. In the case of these parks, Zoe Solutions SAS constructed them. Project sustainability is an important factor GTE considers in assessing community requests, along with commitments by local authorities and the communities themselves to assume some responsibilities for the project. In this case, before the project was funded, both towns agreed that their communities would maintain the parks and assure they were put to good use.

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.