Will Community Benefit Sharing Projects (CBSP) set the precedent for future large-scale infrastructure projects?
As I wrote about last week, seven tribes that own aggregate resources in the Tina River area in central Guadalcanal signed an agreement with the Hyundai Engineering Company Ltd [HEC] to supply aggregate sources to help with the construction of the Tina Hydro Dam in Central Guadalcanal.
In terms of that agreement, the tribes agreed that HEC collects transports and uses aggregates as construction materials, and pays royalties under conditions set out in the agreement.
In the last few days we have learned that a scheme that has been designed and initiated to enhance the positive impacts of the Tina River Hydro-power Development and provide tangible benefits to communities in the Tina Village area of Central Guadalcanal.
The scheme known as a Community Benefit Sharing Project (CBSP) is a partnership approach to ensure developing the Tina River Hydro-power scheme and operations will bring real benefits to the host local communities.
I suppose it is fair to say that in the two examples I have mentioned, benefits for the local communities will result from mutual cooperation between the developers and the landowners.
When initiating the CBSP at Tina Village, the Hon. Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) Bradley Tovosia, said the government was excited to officially launch the program.“It will introduce and test an innovative approach to benefit-sharing that will provide a stream of benefits to the project host communities for the lifetime of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the Development and Solomon Power, and likely beyond,”
He went on to add.
“For the Solomon Islands and indeed the Pacific region, the success of the Community Benefit Sharing Project will set a precedent for future large-scale infrastructure projects.”
“It will demonstrate that significant development can occur with the Melanesian people in a way that respects their culture and the past, while benefiting their future,”
One must hope that Minister Tovosia is correct in forecasting CBSP projects will pave the way for the much needed country wide developments, especially as landowners and resource owners could be expected to reap the benefits under such cooperative arrangements.
Actually, it is increasingly common for renewable energy projects to make financial, or in kind, payments to local communities. These arrangements are variously described as ‘benefits payments’ or ‘compensation schemes’. Similar approaches are now being recommended for other forms of development.
Looking into the concept of the particular CBSP idea for the Solomon Islands, I found it was in April 18, 2018 that the Japan Social Development Fund signed a grant agreement with the Solomon Islands Government for a US$2.8 million for the CBSP.