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Social Acceptance of Projects


This is a follow-up to my thoughts yesterday on the issue of “social acceptance” of major infrastructure, energy and other environmentally sensitive projects.
I talked about the “challenges” of dealing with the broader environmental movement and their impact on political decision making.
Yesterday, in the National Post, I noted that Murray Edwards, a billionaire and chairman or vice chairman of companies like Canadian Natural Resources and Ensign Energy Services Inc., was speaking at a business forum in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Interestingly, Mr. Edwards was speaking specifically on the Keystone XL pipeline debate and he said that it shows we have got to; “continue to communicate our message.”
He noted in his remarks that the strategy is shifting to direct communication with the public to win “social license” rather than just targeting the politicians in order to develop appropriate policies.
Mr. Edwards is getting it, however, making it happen and changing perceptions will take a concentrated and realistic approach.
As I mentioned, my presentation to the Canadian Power Conference (APPrO 2011) was entitled “Winning the War”, where I spoke about the realities of dealing with the broader public. The first step is realizing the importance of the broader public; the second is having the will, and the courage, to engage and confront the unrealistic opposition and stay in the game.
We are starting to understand, as I tell my audiences, that the Approval Process and The War require two different strategies. In her presentation at the APPrO Conference, Ms. Jacquie Hoornweg, VP of Public Affairs for Ontario Power Generation, stated that “Governments give permits; Communities give permission”.
We will gain the “social license” Mr. Edwards refers to by engaging the broader community with an aggressive and well delivered message.
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