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Ranking oil, gas and mining companies on indigenous rights in the Arctic

This ranking switches the perspective of the previous paper, and takes the perspective of the original project proposal in a new direction. Rather than evaluating international instruments and guidelines, it critically evaluates companies in their fulfilment of these guidelines.

2017-03-3110:09 Martin Rimpi

Author: Research Professor Indra Overland

This ranking switches the perspective of the previous paper, and takes the perspective of the original project proposal in a new direction. Rather than evaluating international instruments and guidelines, it critically evaluates companies in their fulfilment of these guidelines. Here, the focus is on companies operating on territory inhabited by indigenous peoples around the entire circumpolar Arctic.
The paper evaluates the public commitments, formalised procedures and institutional arrangements of oil, gas and mining companies
for handling indigenous rights in the Arctic. The purpose of the ranking is to support norm formation and to contribute to improving the performance
of companies on indigenous rights by highlighting which companies have made a public commitment to indigenous rights, and to what extent.
The ranking covers 92 oil, gas and mining companies involved in onshore resource extraction above the Arctic Circle. Each company is assessed according to twenty criteria related to indigenous rights.
The criteria were selected by evaluating the main guidelines and legal instruments related to resource extraction and indigenous rights in the Arctic. These criteria include commitments to international standards, the presence of organisational units dedicated to handling indigenous rights, competent staffing, track records on indigenous issues, transparency, and procedures for consulting with indigenous peoples.
This is the first time this ranking has been carried out. At this stage it is not practicable to assess the actual performance on indigenous rights of such a wide sample of companies. What is analysed here is their public commitments, formalised procedures and organisational setup. Further project papers analyse specific instances of companies’ actual performance in sites across the Norwegian and Russian North.

Recommendations

• The results of this ranking exercise indicate that the majority of companies involved in Arctic resource extraction are ill-prepared to respect indigenous rights.
• Companies operating in the Canadian and US Arctic do better overall in the ranking than their counterparts operating in the Asian and European Arctic. Companies operating in Russia have varied scores, while those operating in Norway score surprisingly low. There is a striking contrast between companies in the petroleum and mining sectors, as the former have significantly better scores than the latter. Some provisional hypotheses are offered to explain these results.

The paper is 11 pages long and contains 7 tables, a list of acronyms and abbreviations, and a list of references.