Project Aims and Objectives
A key element of the Mining, Minerals and Metals (M3) Standards Partnership was to explore ways to engage stakeholders in a strategic and coordinated way. The project envisaged specific activities, including the efficient dissemination of information about the project’s progress and outcomes, and stakeholder engagement in a pilot test of the M3 Integrated Assessment Protocol (IAP) tool. A broader aim, however, was to try to address stakeholder overload in the mining, minerals, and metals standards space. The premise was that multiple initiatives working in the space have been trying to engage with largely overlapping groups of stakeholders, leading to stakeholder fatigue, confusion, and ultimately a lack of engagement for all.
The hypothesis we wanted to explore in the M3 Partnership was whether our work together could mitigate stakeholder fatigue by increasing opportunities to engage collaboratively, reducing duplication and unconstructive competition, identifying unique ways each organisation can contribute to a greater whole, increasing confidence in all systems, and engaging diverse stakeholders collectively, rather than separately. The intended outcome was to create greater value for stakeholders through fewer interactions and less duplication, increasing meaningful participation and support for credible standards in the sector, and ultimately creating greater impact by improving environmental and social responsibility. The proposition was that this would be of particular value for civil society organisations, for whom resources are always highly constrained.
One basic strategy for collective engagement was to develop a shared international database of stakeholders with an interest in the application of multi-stakeholder standards in the mining, minerals, and metals space up and down the supply chains of all M3 Partnership organisations. The database would include civil society organisations with a focus on social and environmental change, as well as mining, processing, and downstream businesses and initiatives engaged with the development and/or use of multi-stakeholder standards applicable to mining, minerals, and metals supply chains. It was envisaged that this database would be created initially by merging respective contact lists of the participating organisations to create a combined “M3 Partnership Stakeholder List.” This shared stakeholder list would then be used as a primary resource for project communications and would grow organically as more stakeholders engaged with the project partners through M3 Partnership work streams, rather than through each organisation separately. Over time it would become an increasingly valuable resource for each M3 Partner’s communications.
Due to data protection requirements and other hurdles, we were not successful in establishing a shared international database of stakeholders to use for stakeholder outreach, despite this seeming at the start of the project to be one of the simpler outcomes to achieve. We were, however, able to create a combined list of organisations engaged in each M3 Partner organisation and to carry out initial analysis of sectors engaged, geographic coverage, and overlapping engagement.
We identified four specific areas which we believe created challenges for conducting stakeholder engagement in the ways we had originally planned. These areas include:
- M3 Partner organisations’ unique identities and organisation-specific stakeholder engagement;
- Data protection requirements;
- Technical and inward-focused nature of some M3 Partnership work that, while necessary to build collaborative work, was not of interest to all stakeholders; and
- The COVID-19 Pandemic.
Stakeholder Engagement Strategies and Lessons Learned
The four organisations leading the M3 Partnership learned many lessons from the efforts to develop collaborative approaches to stakeholder engagement described above, including:
- Collaborative stakeholder engagement is most effective when there are ongoing collaborative activities across project partners.
- Data protection requirements must be met, including EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. This may require managing separate (but overlapping) contact lists for partner organisations.
- The focus of collaborative engagement should be on projects that are accessible and directly relevant to those engaged.
- Collaborators must be flexible and creative in their engagement approach when changing circumstances arise, such as limitations on travel and in-person gatherings in a global pandemic.
Download the full stakeholder document
Stakeholder Primary Focus
*Based on limited data from ResponsibleSteel and IRMA stakeholders
North America: 689
South America: 51
*based on limited data on organizational and institutional engagement only