Sustainability Research Institute

Rights, Risk and Responsibility: Building Community Capacities for Engagement with the Extractive Industries

Community workshop, Uganda

Funding body: Alcoa Foundation

Amount: US$350,000

Start Date: 2008

End Date: 2011

The Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds is implementing a four-year cross-country capacity building and action research project, funded by the Alcoa Foundation, with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Business-Community Synergies. The project aims to increase understanding about the extractive industries and enhance community capacities to negotiate more effectively with the extractive industries for sustainable local benefits. Programme's goals are normative and analytical. It aims to:

  • establish a community of practice within this field of community-company engagement in the extractive industries;
  • enable communities to maximize benefits from firms engaged in resource extraction; and
  • contribute to a growing body of knowledge by identifying which factors contribute to the relative success of community-driven initiatives.

The project is being conducted in five phases. Phase one designed a Community-Company Assessment (CCA) training programme to build capacities within host communities. The CCA was established by Business-Community Synergies and is a process that facilitates shared understanding and praxis among multiple actors affected by and involved in resource extraction. For more information see: It uses an inductive research approach to assess community, company and government perceptions related to oil, gas and mining operations in host communities. The CCA results in an action plan, agreed by industry, government and community representatives, which is co-constructed through participatory processes. Phase two of the project included a five-day international training in South Africa in April 2009 where the CCA was introduced and tested with civil society representatives from Brazil, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. The training was co-sponsored by the IFC/World Bank and co-hosted by AngloGold Ashanti and Lonmin Platinum.

Phase three of the project included conducting CCAs in five extractive contexts - Brazil (bauxite), Ghana (oil), Ireland (natural gas), Uganda (oil) and Zambia (copper) - with local civil society, company, and government representatives. The civil society organizations that participated in the South Africa training have been and continue to be integral to this process, particularly in conducting the CCAs and the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of the action plans. In phase four the core team will support implementation of the various action plans and will document the experience and identify lessons learned. Phase five includes outreach and dissemination: country reports and a cross-country analysis are being conducted and an international conference is planned to wrap up the project in late 2011.

In sum, this action research project aims to enable host communities to maximize development benefits from resource extraction. More proactive community-company engagement should result in stakeholders changing the way they approach their work and their relationships. We posit that this community-driven approach can build shared understanding, legitimacy, power sharing and trust throughout the extractive industry project cycle.

More information

Project Website


James Van Alstine (Principle Investigator) at j.vanalstine(at) and Rani Parker at info(at) 

For more information see: