Our main service is called Smart Engagement. It means doing business (and by business we mean your main activities, be it for profit, not-for-profit, public service, etc.) by integrating smart stakeholder engagement into strategy, governance and implementation. The result of integrating Smart Engagement is Smart Business via Smart Projects: a highly innovative business that is financially viable, technically feasible, environmentally compatible and supported by its stakeholders. It is created one project at a time. An example of this applied to the stakeholder challenges of the energy sector is documented here.
To cultivate clarity, partnerships and management processes within and between organisations, communities and authorities to make projects that everyone wants.
Respect. We respect each other, our clients, our partners and the right of everyone to take part in decisions that affect them.
Clarity. We strive for clear understanding by all stakeholders of current realities, objectives, risks, aspirations and opportunities, in order to enable informed decisions.
Creativity. We work to stimulate creativity in thought and action, with a view to reach common objectives and mobilise required innovations.
Can-do. We believe there are solutions to our shared challenges and we know that together we can realise them.
Organisations, communities, government bodies and individuals are successful through contributing to a prosperous and sustainable society.
This document gives an overview of the project and some of its key considerations.
The project researched, developed, trailed & critically examined a successful approach* to enable developers and project neighbours to design energy projects wanted by both, through an inclusive and informed decision making process.
Results, guidance and case studies are provided to build confidence in the use of this approach
* Successfully applied to over 20 infrastructure, energy and natural resource projects in 10 countries.
When it comes to wind farms in Ireland, there are those who are totally in favour, those who are totally opposed, and many in between. Where do these vastly differing viewpoints come from?
Listening to, understanding and acknowledging the perspectives of neighbours, industry and government enables effective discussions in the decision making process.
Early on in the project, the solutions being offered through the building of a Social License to Operate (SLO) were examined through this literature review. The review digs deep into the opportunities & challenges therein.
The SLO concept is used extensively in the extractive industries. More recently it has been applied to wind farms.
Core to the approach is the examination and addressing of distributional and procedural justice issues as well as potential negative externalities associated with their operations
Guide to earning local support for energy projects in Ireland
While project developers put significant effort into a project’s readiness for finance, a strategic focus on what the project means for local communities is equally important.
This often requires a place where all potentially impacted individuals can find out the full facts of what is being proposed, before a project is designed.
But how can such a process be established? This guide looks at a process to do this.
Local Support Checklist
Experience from projects with potential community impacts – be it renewable energy infrastructure, natural resource developments, tourism or infrastructure – shows that there are some basic steps that a project developer, and a community, ignore at their peril.
This Quick Guide acts as an aid memoire to ensure these steps are taken in time.
Busy people want to see that an approach can deliver before adopting it. Especially an approach that requires some change and significant investment in time and resources.
If other peers in the industry have not tried it out yet and proven it works then this is more so the case. It would be nice if all solutions were de-risked before having to choose them. But being a leader in the field also has its benefits.
A series of projects have been undertaken to help demonstrate and build confidence in the approach outlined in the Guide to design projects wanted by both neighbours and developers.
To focus in on detail, each project demonstrates different combinations of aspects of the Guide.
Some of these case studies are named and are ongoing; others have preferred to remain unnamed for now.
Turning current community concerns into strengths through re-imagining how the wind industry designs projects is a great opportunity to significantly improve the earning of local support.
It also has great potential to contribute to another government policy pillar besides that of decarbonisation our economy: namely to meet our sustainable development goals.
To facilitate this, an accelerated process to address the concerns of decision makers so they have the confidence to embrace this opportunity is needed.
This section documents further work and research that will help this happen.
Team clarity strengthening
We undertake a deep dive to clarify the required foundations to address your challenges and mobilise your opportunities. We do this with your team (and some close stakeholders, as required) to map out where people think they are at, including clarity around challenges and opportunities.
Customised Risk Workshops
A tailor-made risk workshop will join the dots and hold up a mirror for you and your team to see what your stakeholder challenges and opportunities are and ways to address them. It will build team cohesion and clarity next steps.
These exercises leave you with:
- Clarity on where your project is adding or subtracting value.
- Everyone from your senior management to your implementation teams focused on the right things at the right time.
- Identified stakeholder-related risks and commitments
Coaching and Consulting
Smart Leadership and focused team
Working with us, you resolve all pressing team issues identified during the Assessment (link) and end up with a more cohesive team.
Engagement champions are identified within your team, and training and coaching is further planned and rolled out as needed.
Smart Engagement Strategy & Plan
You will have a Strategy and Plan that clarifies the need for your project and how it fits into local development.
Smart Engagement processes and skills
Your team is fully capable to roll out Smart Engagement and deliver Smart Projects – ones that are wanted by you and by your projects’ neighbours.
All training is bespoke. All coaching and consulting is designed to empower you and your team, so you can make great projects happen, time and time again.
Co-design a Smart Project
When it becomes obvious that business culture, scientific arguments and technical jargon are opening an ever-widening gap between your project and stakeholders, investing in a bridge is the smartest strategy for your business’s success.
AstonECO supports you to bridge the gap between the business and technical world and people’s everyday lives through a structured and systematic engagement process leading to projects supported by all concerned.
Concretely, we will work with you to:
- build a multi-stakeholder team to oversee the design of the project
- conduct joint baseline studies and impact assessments
- develop joint designs and management plans to manage risks, meet required standards and ensure that the resulting project will succeed
- reach win-win solutions through principled negotiation
- obtain necessary land access and permits
- create impact-benefit agreements
Implement a Smart Project
We will work with you to:
- nurture relationships that are important for the project
- proactively share feedback to manage risks and expectations, and monitor impact-benefit agreements
- ensure that all the involved are willing to keep engaging and open to understanding each other
- report on progress and challenges (link to GRI or other reporting framework if useful)
- audit and protect the shared social license to operate