This paper examines the nature and attributes of social license and analyzes its growing importance as a critical success factor for resource development. Main Findings " Social license " generally refers to a local community's acceptance or approval of a company's project or ongoing presence in an area. It is increasingly recognized by various stakeholders and communities as a prerequisite to development. The development of social license occurs outside of formal permitting or regulatory processes, and requires sustained investment by proponents to acquire and maintain social capital within the context of trust-based relationships. Often intangible and informal, social license can nevertheless be realized through a robust suite of actions centered on timely and effective communication, meaningful dialogue, and ethical and responsible behavior. Policy Implications • Local conditions, needs, and customs vary considerably and are often opaque, but have a significant impact on the likely success of various approaches to building social capital and trust. These regional and cultural differences demand a flexible and responsive approach and must be understood early in order to enable the development and implementation of an effective strategy to earn and maintain social license. • Governments could facilitate the necessary stakeholder mapping in regions for which they are responsible and provide a regulatory framework that sets companies on the right path for engagement with communities and stakeholders. • Social media tools empower stakeholders and communities to access and share information on company behaviors, technologies, and projects as they are implemented around the world. Understanding and managing this reality will be important for companies seeking social license. • Voluntary measures integral to corporate-responsibility frameworks contribute to achieving social license, particularly through enhancing a company's reputation and strengthening its capacity for effective communication, engagement, and collaboration. However, such measures do not obviate the need for project-specific action to earn and maintain social license. • The growing reliance on social media tools by stakeholders and proponents alike, and the risks associated with disclosure through them, may lead to an increased need for the development of guiding ethical and technical codes of conduct or other standards.
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