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The evolving role of CSR in international development: Evidence from Canadian extractive companies’ involvement in community health initiatives in low-income countries

In: 
The Extractive Industries and Society
Type of publication: 
Type of article: 
Others authors: 
Sarah Lamb, Jonathan Jennings
Date of publication: 
2017
Edition: 
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2017.05.011

Overseas development agencies and international finance organisations view the exploitation of minerals as a strategy for alleviating poverty in low-income countries. However, for local communities that are directly affected by extractive industry projects, economic and social benefits often fail to materialise. By engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), transnational companies operating in the extractive industries ‘space’ verbally commit to preventing environmental impacts and providing health services in low-income countries. However, the actual impacts of CSR initiatives can be difficult to assess.

We help to bridge this gap by analysing the reach of health-related CSR activities financed by Canadian mining companies in the low-income countries where they operate. We found that in 2015, only 27 of 102 Canadian companies disclosed information on their websites concerning health-related CSR activities for impacted communities. Furthermore, for these 27 companies, there is very little evidence that alleged CSR activities may substantially contribute to the provision of comprehensive health services or more broadly to the sustainable development of the health sector.