Social Impact Management at Acciona

By Juan Ramón Silva Ferrada (Acciona), Acciona
11:50 AM, June 23, 2015

The Social Impact Management methodology aims to integrate Social Impact Management into all levels of the process of identifying opportunities as well as bidding on and executing projects at ACCIONA, with a proactive focus on a commitment to the communities in which it operates.

The company continued to strengthen its methodology for Social Impact Management in 2014, focusing especially on implementation throughout a project’s lifecycle, including social risk analysis in the earliest phases of identifying business opportunities.

Social risks that the company aims to detect include:

> impact on communities’ basic services: electricity, water, education, healthcare, communications, and   housing
> changes to the continuity of local communities’ economic activities
> impact on the rights of vulnerable groups, such as the indigenous and low-income populations, children, and the elderly
> impact on the rights of direct and indirect employees

Moreover, the number of projects in which social impact is managed has increased. In 2014, more than 20 projects in 12 countries (Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Gabon, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago) were at various stages of implementing the methodology. These are very different projects, ranging from the construction of metro lines and sewage systems, the construction and operation of wastewater treatment plants and wind farms, and road construction to hospital reconstruction and park maintenance.

Milestones of the community outreach plan

2012: permit process
> 8 meetings to present the project
> 61 opinion leaders interviewed
> Opinion survey conducted with a sample of 347 people
    > 90 percent consider the wind farm will have a positive effect on their community
    > 1.7 percent believe it will have negative effects

2013: construction
> Regular work meetings with the affected communities
> Incentive to contractors and subcontractors to hire local laborers
> 210 local residents were hired (more than 50% of the total workforce)
> 16 initiatives to upgrade infrastructure
> Measures to correct the environmental impact

2014: operation
> Joint committee to develop projects of social interest in the area

Project start
Contact person
Juan Ramón Silva Ferrada

Project benefit

  • Improvements of social welfare, employee wellbeing and infrastructure
  • Supporting local business and hiring local personnel
  • Educational and health campaigns for local communities
Anti-Corruption -
Business & Peace -
Development X
Environment X
Financial Markets -
Implementing UNGC Principles in your Corporate CSR Management X
Human Rights -
Labour Standards X
Local Networks X
Advocacy of global issues X
Business opportunities in low income communities/countries -
Project funding -
Provision of goods X
Provision of services/personal X
Standards and guidelines development -
  • Local communities

In terms of frequency, the main negative and positive social impacts caused by projects are listed below.

Negative impacts

>  Impact on access to services (healthcare, education, shops)
> Noise, dust, and vibrations
> Water and electricity outages; interruptions to communications and waste collection
> Roadblocks and deterioration of roads
> Negative impacts of expropriation
> Social impacts from changes in the natural environment

Positive impacts

> Creation of local employment
> Skills training for employees and communities
> Generation of local wealth through the purchase of products and services

The main measures implemented to mitigate negative impacts and to strengthen positive ones are:

> information campaigns about the project
> improvements in infrastructure
> improvements in the social welfare of vulnerable groups
> educational campaigns for the community
> health campaigns for the community
> protection / refurbishment of places of cultural / religious interest
> protection / refurbishment of places of natural interest for the community
> compensation and restoration of living conditions affected by expropriation
> buying local goods and services; promoting local entrepreneurship
> hiring local personnel
> improving employee well-being

Tools to raise awareness have also been developed, addressing two main areas:

> internal, to strengthen the business culture of Social Impact Management; and
> external, to communicate this methodology to partners, clients, and public administrations.

Chiripa Wind Farm - Social Impact Management

The construction of ACCIONA’s first wind farm in Costa Rica, Chiripa, was accompanied by an ambitious plan to manage the project’s social impact. Through plans like this, the company materializes its commitment to the development and welfare of the communities in which it operates by enhancing the positive effects of its projects and mitigating negative effects they may have.

While the wind farm permits were being obtained, the project was presented to local stakeholders (authorities, agencies, residents associations, etc.) and opinion surveys were conducted, both qualitative (interviews with local opinion leaders) and quantitative.

There were two main conclusions: more than 90 percent of respondents expected the wind farm to have a positive impact on their communities; unemployment and a lack of basic infrastructure were identified as the main problems affecting the area.

These conclusions shaped subsequent actions. Of the 370 people employed during the construction and assembly of the wind farm, approximately 210 (more than 50 percent) were local laborers.

Additionally, the impact of the work was minimized by means of a package of measures ranging from scheduling truck transits to restoring roads and gates, replanting terrain, and reforestation with autochthonous species.

The company also outfitted sports fields, installed sewers, and repaired country roads, among other actions, which will be continued through a number of community outreach projects to be conducted each year while the wind farm is operational.

About the Authors
Silva Ferrada, Juan Ramón

 Juan Ramón Silva Ferrada is Area General Manager Sustainability at ACCIONA.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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