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The Devonshire Initiative is a forum for international development NGOs and mining companies to discuss emerging social agendas around community development

Beyond Zero Harm: A New Framework to Measure Community Development

Is the overall well-being of mine-affected communities improving over time? How can human development be demonstrated in the context of mining operations? How can companies ensure they are contributing to community-driven development?

These are some of the most critical and frequently debated questions around corporate social responsibility (CSR). While CSR has evolved rapidly over the past decade, many practitioners would agree that as an industry, we still don’t have a firm grasp on how to effectively measure and discuss development progress with communities.

I recently attended the PDAC convention in Toronto. During one of the CSR sessions, a group of experts introduced the Beyond Zero Harm Framework (BZH), a new framework developed in response to these gaps. Developed over three years by a multi-stakeholder working group of mining companies, NGOs and academics that belong to Devonshire Initiative (DI), the framework was designed as a participatory process for discussing, defining, measuring and analyzing community well-being. Here is a brief overview of this new framework for the extractive sector.

The Devonshire Initiative

The Devonshire Initiative is a forum for leading international development NGOs and mining companies to come together in response to the emerging social agenda surrounding mining and community development.

The objective of the DI is improved social and community development outcomes in communities where their members operate.

The DI provides four specific areas of value addition to its members and stakeholders:

  1. Opening dialogue that creates a better understanding of, and that deepens engagement on, social and community development components of CSR work being done by Canadian mining companies operating in developing countries
  2. Enhancing cross-sector Canadian engagement with, and understanding of community development issues
  3. Sharing innovations and best practices within the mining and development community
  4. Enhancing in-country capacity to allow communities, regions and countries to more visibly realize the benefits of Canadian mining investments.

Why the Devonshire Initiative?

Mining is a reality in many developing and emerging countries. It is an industry that can provide jobs, revenue for the national government and communities, and broader economic development. Without adequate consideration of social, environmental and governance issues, mining can have negative impacts.

There is an increasing dialogue around corporate social responsibility and best practices in sustainable community development, particularly in Canada, given the number of major mining companies headquartered in Canada.

Development NGOs have experience with community development and the communities with which they work are impacted by private sector operations, including those of the mining industry. The private sector has industry expertise but may need support when engaging with communities.

The Beyond Zero Harm Framework

The Beyond Zero Harm (BZH) Framework is a participatory process for discussing, defining, measuring and analyzing community well-being. The BZH Framework is designed to address gaps in the collection of consistent and meaningful data on community well-being in any community, but is specifically applicable in locations where mining companies operate. The multi-stakeholder process on which the BZH Framework is based also aims to shift how companies participate in community development dialogue more broadly.

The Framework is laid out in four-phases and is designed to complement existing company initiatives for baseline data collection (such as Social Impact Assessments) as well as existing community planning and development processes.

The BZH Framework incorporates two different types of indicators for well-being measurement: that are pre-defined “core indicators”, “co-created indicators that are jointly defined with communities. The combination of these two different types of indicators ensures that what is measured is relevant to global development standards as well as the local context.

The core indicators, which have been adapted from global development indices, are designed to be applicable in almost any developing country context and are intended to remain consistent in their application. They cover an inclusive range of well-being categories, including: education, health, economics, living standards, security, etc. While the co-created indicators can be conceptualized as a blank slate of indicators that are developed through a guided dialogue with community stakeholders in order to reflect local realities.


You can download Version 1.1 of the BZH Framework.

The working group intends on revisiting the BZH Framework within three years to apply the results and input from pilot projects in various jurisdictions to revise and strengthen the framework.

 IsoMetrix and the BZH Framework

IsoMetrix is a leading South African-based supplier of integrated Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) management software. IsoMetrix is an agile application, thus its business model is to customise its solution to match its client processes and procedures. IsoMetrix has a global footprint with more than 40 000 users. The BZH Framework is applicable through the IsoMetrix Social Sustainability Solution.





About the Author

Benoit Froment was appointed as Director: North America for Metrix Software Solutions in October 2015. Benoit is responsible for leading the IsoMetrix operations in the US and Canada, including Sales and Marketing, Implementation and Customer Support. He is also an IsoMetrix Subject Matter Expert in Social Sustainability.