Will communities call the tune? Sharing the costs and benefits of power and resource activities
Members of SEERIL’s Academic Advisory Group will introduce the key findings of their latest research project Sharing the Costs and Benefits of Power and Resource Activities (Oxford University Press, 2016)
A new phase is emerging in the relationship between power and resource activities and the communities that are affected by them. Any power or resource project, a mine, a windfarm, a dam for hydro-electricity, or a shale gas development will involve a mix of costs and benefits for communities. Law for many years has mediated effects on communities through compensation regimes, assigned risk and liability, and provided legal measures for the distribution of financial benefits.
Now, there is a need to consider a wider range of costs and benefits for communities and the effects at multiple scales and in complex ways. Effects may cover a spectrum from environmental damage, loss of amenity, social and cultural dislocation, and economic disruption, to more positive outcomes such as benefit packages promoting health, education and cultural outcomes, revenue flows, and jobs. These trends draw attention to how the law is changing to meet the challenges of ‘sharing the costs and benefits of power and resource activity’. Communities faced with new technologies, for example, now seek active engagement in determining how the costs and benefits of power and resource development are to be ‘shared’. Communities may also be conceived as ‘communities of interest’ with power communities giving tangible shape to these linkages.
The effects also can extend beyond the immediate site of the project as regional, national, and trans-national tensions may play out against the backdrop of power and resource projects. This expands the scale at which costs and benefits for communities need to be considered.
The AAG book engages with these trends in identifying the implications for law of a new emphasis on sharing costs and benefits of power and resource projects by reference to a range of comparative case studies.
The session will consist of three thematic presentations, on the following topics:
1 Catalysts for change
What are the drivers of changing legal approaches to the distribution of the costs and benefits of power and resource activities? Issues for discussion will include: renewable and alternative power development; international and transnational legal developments; community empowerment and the evolution of public participation; changing understandings of human rights; the significance of climate change.
2 Key concepts
Successful legal regulation requires clarity about the meaning – and sometimes contested meaning – of key underpinning concepts. This presentation will unpack the central concepts of ‘community’; ‘costs’; ‘benefits’; and ‘sharing’.
3 Drilling down – themes and frameworks
Comparative study assists the identification of common themes and organising frameworks which inform legal regulation of costs and benefit sharing in specific jurisdictions. This presentation will give an overview of some of the key legal issues arising from the research project. The research covered analyses as diverse as: inter-jurisdictional cost and benefits; indigenous rights and benefit sharing; community power development partnerships; transnational and national corporate liability schemes, ecological restoration, taxation and ‘resource control’ compensation regimes; national resource revenue distribution; minorities and localities – benefits, rights and expectations; and project regulatory processes. Three case studies will illustrate significant issues – around the themes of community-benefit and cost sharing arrangements; innovative liability, resource control and compensation models, and emerging forms of community participation, funding and regulatory controls.
Professor Barry Barton University of Waikato, Hamilton
Professor Al Lucas University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
Professor Anita Rønne University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Other AAG members and contributors to the book will also participate in the presentations.