COVID-19 Collaboration

Past experience with pandemics and emergency response indicates that a collaborative approach is essential to preventing and treating COVID-19. A collaborative approach will also be required to support people who have been impacted and rebuild social and economic systems when COVID-19 is controlled. Collaboration can focus on different activities, including data and information sharing; collaborative response planning and formal partnerships and joint ventures to implement responses.  Collaboration can take many forms. Many organizations use multiple forms of collaboration at the same time.

Internal collaboration is between the various functions and departments of an organization. Some examples include a multi-disciplinary task force where department heads are represented and daily communications flow down to employees and external stakeholders (e.g. communities, governments etc.). Department heads are responsible for working within their department and across regions to feedback information and implement the response plan. There are some examples where not all departments are represented. Many companies and NGOs were clear that this was NOT an effective approach and led to a breakdown in communication and confusion with employees. All departments are impacted by COVID-19 and have a role in the response.

Internal Collaboration

Peer-to-peer collaboration is between organizations in a similar sector or industry. At the time of writing, most examples of peer-to-peer collaboration were based on learning and sharing ideas. In some cases, this peer-to-peer collaboration has been facilitated by industry associations, established peer networks or has been spearheaded by individuals.

  • In March, independent consultants, Synergy Global, the Wits Mining Institute and Global Compact South Africa started hosting regular webinars for social performance practitioners to share lessons learned and concerns.

  • The Mining Association of Canada has established a COVID-19 Working Group that is in constant contact. This working group provides a forum for sharing information on best practices to protect employees and the communities, as well as challenges and successes regarding their implementation.

  • Industry associations in other countries have also helped support in-kind support to government health authorities from across the mining sector. 

  • 6 leading child-focused NGOs, including Plan International, SOS Children’s’ Villages and World Vision International wrote an open letter to governments demanding concrete actions from governments to protect children during the COVID-19 crisis. The letter includes specific recommendations related to food security, access to health services, education and protection.

Peer-to-Peer Collaboration

Community-led collaboration is guided and directed by community leaders and priorities. Many mining companies and NGOs have experience with community-led initiatives and where relationships are established communities should lead the collaborative response to COVID-19.

Community-led collaboration is specifically important when designing relevant approaches for:

  • Social distancing requirements, sensitization and education;

  • Developing plans to ensure communities have food security, shelter and access to sanitation;

  • Sharing information, developing community databases to identify vulnerable groups and tracking experiences with the virus;

  • Managing treatment and access to care; and

  • Planning for appropriate and safe burial and funerary services.

The collaborative effort from the Tahltan Nations and Newcrest mining in British Colombia is a good example of community-led collaboration. Together the Indigenous governments and mining company made plans related to medical support for three communities, mining operations at the Red Chris JV and employee rosters, access to groceries and health supplies, and a joint-working group for future decisions.

On March 19th, after extensive discussions with community leaders, Agnico Eagle took the precaution of sending the entire Nunavut-based workforce home in order to reduce the chance of the virus spreading to the local communities. The Nunavut-based employees live in remote communities with a healthcare system that has limited capacity to face the challenges associated with managing COVID-19, and consequently they and their families would be more vulnerable to the potential effects of the virus. 

Community Led Collaboration

Cross-sector collaboration is between organizations from different sectors. This can include collaboration between mining companies, NGOs, local governments and community organizations, regional and national governments and international organizations (e.g. WHO, UN agencies). This can also include collaboration with other industries including other natural resource development companies (e.g. commercial agriculture, renewables and oil and gas) as well as health providers (e.g. pharmaceutical companies, medical supplies etc.) and mineral end users (e.g. technology companies).

Many companies and NGOs noted that that main challenge to driving a cross-sector response is access to information about how other organizations are responding as well as multi-stakeholder forums where the response is being planned/discussed.

 

By early April, most cross-sector collaboration related to COVID-19 is based on information sharing and financial, and in-kind donations in order to support the health authorities or local organizations that are best placed to drive the response.

  • Kinross has donated approximately $1 million across all sites to facilitate improved testing, provide medical supplies, improve health infrastructure, support local businesses and help vulnerable groups. Kinross has partnered directly with government health authorities, with mining industry associations, community partners, local businesses, schools and individuals. The company is actively working on a longer-term strategy looking at continued response plus eventual recovery, with lines of action likely to focus on health and local economic reactivation.

  • Newmont  established a $20 Million Community Support Fund . With input from local stakeholders, the company identified three focus areas to ensure that the financial support will have the most positive impact and reach those who need it most. Newmont is working with partners to deploy resources across three key areas Employee and Community Health; Food Security; and Local Economic Resilience.

  • In Chile, BHP and the Medical Faculty of Universidad Católica, have combined efforts to raise the testing capacity and strengthen the Familiar Health Centers of the South East Area of the Metropolitan Region, as well as Antofagasta and Tarapacá. BHP has contributed $8Million USD to the effort.

To date cross-sector collaboration for COVID-19 tends to be ad-hoc and based on previously established individual relationships and networks. Moving forward, mining companies and NGOs are interested in methods to drive a cross-sector collaborative approach in order to: 

Follow a joint plan or road map that can inform organizations response.  A regional plan would ideally be led by government bodies, including health authorities. It would clearly identify the resources needed and co-ordinate private and NGO responses. It would also establish hubs for organizations to share and receive information and data

 

Leverage resources and limit overlap. Organizations are looking for direction and opportunities to utilize supply chains, transportation networks, and warehouses to deliver health and medical supplies as well as other essential services (e.g. food); utilize under used resources such as empty camps and spaces for hospital services; re-tool operations to develop health and medical supplies (e.g. sanitizer, PPE etc.) and share prototypes for required health and medical supplies.

Some platforms have emerged to connect and share best practice

  • Business Fights Poverty, UKAid and the Kennedy School of Business have come together to develop a COVID-19 Response Center that includes a Framework for business and NGOs and an Action Mapping Toolkit. The creation of this live beta mapping tool of company actions is being funded with UK aid from the UK government. The database lists examples of actions being taken by companies to identify and scale up innovative solutions, through their core business capabilities and operations, philanthropy and social investments, and their engagement in policy dialogue and helping to strengthen institutions. If you want to share another good practice example, or want to update one already included, you can register and participate in the response center.  

  • Reliefweb is an information hub run by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs which is searchable by country.  Registered organizations post information on the situation, needs, and responses.   

  • Responsible Steel hosted a multi-stakeholder panel on COVID-19 impacts.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

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