Dissecting "Social Licence" - Groundbreaking new analysis takes deepest look ever at whether our regulatory systems are working

CALGARY, May 18, 2016 /CNW/ - It has become increasingly difficult in Canada to gain and sustain public acceptance of energy projects. Increased levels of protest, combined with traditional media and social media coverage of opposition, suggest decreased public acceptance of energy projects. Decision-makers have responded accordingly, and a variety of energy projects have either been delayed or put on hold indefinitely. This is true for both conventional and renewable energy projects and in many different regions across the country.

Today, The School of Public Policy and authors John Colton, Kenneth Corscadden, Stewart Fast, Monica Gattinger, Joel Gehman, Martha Hall Findlay, Dylan Morgan, Judith Sayers, Jennifer Winter and Adonis Yatchew released results of a year-long interdisciplinary collaboration on the concepts of public acceptance and social licence and their applications to Canada. The paper also makes recommendations for improving Canada's regulatory systems and improving public confidence in Canada's various energy-related regulatory agencies.  Some of the recommendations include:

1. Governmental Coordination. Greater coordination of regulatory processes between the federal and provincial governments is required and should be directed towards enhancing beneficial outcomes for all affected stakeholders.

2. Stakeholder Engagement. A consistent, transparent and rigorous system for identifying and reaching out to stakeholders is essential to regulatory efficiency and efficacy.

3. Social License as a Concept. When it comes to energy development, the term "social licence" needs to be further analyzed, and, if used, used with care.

4. First Nations. The federal and provincial governments should take ownership of this duty to consult and ensure that it is done in a comprehensive manner that has been set out by both domestic and international law.

Canada is one of the most decentralized federations in the world. It is also hugely varied geographically, with different regions having very different energy sources, as well as somewhat different uses for energy. For major energy infrastructure projects that involve a single province, let alone more than one province, achieving regional, provincial and aboriginal agreements and commitments to action is critical — yet is often very difficult.

The papers can be downloaded at http://www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=research

SOURCE The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary

For further information: Media Contact: Morten Paulsen, 403.220.2540, morten.paulsen2@ucalgary.ca


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