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Human rights and corporate responsibility in Mexico

A virtual panel on respect for human rights.

by Eni Staff
29 September 2020
5 min read
byEni Staff
29 September 2020
5 min read

Eni's focus on countries

“Eni’s vision on human rights builds on the dignity of every human being and on the responsibility of companies to contribute to the well-being of local individuals and the communities in the countries in which it operates.” These words are taken from our Declaration of Respect for Human Rights, the document establishing the terms of Eni's commitment to its communities. We constantly monitor the situation in the countries we work in and Domenico Barranca, head of sustainability at Eni Mexico, shared his first-hand experience at the virtual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Latin America, held on 9 September, where he took stock of the company’s work on that front. The event, organised by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the UN, the ILO and the OECD, was an opportunity to discuss due diligence and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the panel, entitled "Due diligence on human rights: multi-faceted perspectives on a multifaceted concepts", Barranca looked deeper into some of the issues related to the mining projects and land impact assessments carried out by Eni.

Actions and methods for respecting human rights

“As a global company working in the energy sector, Eni carries out large mining projects in countries with differing legislation and requirements. Therefore, before beginning any kind of operation, it is essential to carry out impact assessments”, Barranca stressed. This is a crucial part of the authorisation process and helps us to understand the impact of projects in various areas, including environmental, health and social implications. "For Eni, carrying out an ESHIA (Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment) for each project, in line with the internal guidelines establishing the methods that each subsidiary must follow, is an essential standard," added the head of sustainability at Eni Mexico.

This approach reflects the company's decision to adopt a more stringent due diligence process than that required by national legislation and includes, for higher risk projects (as defined using a prioritisation model), a human rights impact assessment, or HRIA (Human Rights Impact Assessment), as we did in Mexico with the support of the Danish Insitute for Human Rights, a highly authoritative institution on these matters.

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At the end of the HRIA, lots of people in the community approached us to say they were happy to have at been involved and that their opinion had been taken into consideration.

by Domenico Barranca, head of sustainability at Eni Mexico

The role of the governments of each country is no less important. They need to have clear regulatory frameworks to guide companies as to the meaning of their responsibilities. Some states, particularly in Europe, have begun to put in place legislative measures in this area. The European Commission has also expressed its intention to present a regional project on the matter by 2021.

ESHIAs and HRIAs: good practices to build on

"The main differences between an ESHIA and an HRIA, as we observed during our work, lie in the way impacts are identified", Barranca highlighted. In an HRIA, rights holders (directly or indirectly affected by the projects) are identified well in advance and their opinions, together with details about their way of life and concerns about the project, are explored through dedicated interviews and focus groups with vulnerable individuals and groups, including children, women and minorities. "The range of impacts identified in an HRIA are broader than those in an ESHIA. An HRIA looks at issues related to working with contractors, good practices on human rights within the goods and services supply chain and human rights and safety activities related to operations", added the head of sustainability at Eni Mexico. In the case of an ESHIA, environmental and social risks and impacts can be assessed and managed separately.

Eni's assessments in Mexico

Eni has carried out three different types of work in Mexico. First an ESHIA, as required by the company's internal procedures. In a second phase, a social impact assessment was carried out, as a legal requirement. The final step was an assessment of the impact on human rights of activities in the country. The latter activity is included in the due diligence process, which the Eni’s human rights management system requires in light of the risk level potentially associated with the Project 1 area, classified as “high” according to the prioritisation model.

The HRIA, carried out by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, was implemented as soon as the development project began. Communities were approached to take part in interviews and focus groups, centred on their views, concerns and needs. This fostered a positive view of HRIA-related activities and strengthened the population’s feeling of participation and involvement.