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What is the "Social License" and how does NRRI help industry achieve it?

Crossing street signs with words Environment and Economy

How much influence do ordinary people have in determining how a new mine operates, or how a forest is managed, or how corporate agriculture is practiced? More than you might think!

Modern corporations work hard to earn a “social license to operate,” the informal, but very powerful, permission that society grants to companies, allowing them do business without widespread public opposition, resistance and disruption.

Social license is based on public trust, and that trust must be earned by corporate actions over time. Businesses usually start to build public trust by obtaining formal licenses and permits, but they can only gain the levels of trust needed to earn a social license by going beyond the official requirements and engaging stakeholders and addressing their concerns. Companies must be responsive and responsible as projects are planned and operated.

Gaining a social license is a win-win proposition: industries benefit by avoiding undo public ill will, animosity, and hostility, which can result in delays, legal actions, and magnified costs. Society benefits because the corporate commitments toward gaining public approval ensures that their projects will be conducted responsibly and in keeping with social expectations.

NRRI seeks to identify factors that define social license to operate for our regional businesses and industries, to promote and facilitate engagement between industry and the public, and to encourage Minnesota industries and citizens to consider social license to be a vital component as we develop our natural resources.