Indigenous peoples

We respect indigenous peoples and their cultures, commit to conducting meaningful consultations with them, incorporate traditional knowledge and land use information into our plans and seek mutually beneficial long-term relationships.

Article Aug. 28, 2018

Indigenous peoples

Identifying indigenous peoples and engaging them and their representatives in open and forthright consultation, including the consideration of Traditional Knowledge, promotes focused community engagement programs that respect indigenous peoples’ traditions and cultures. Our business should be conducted in a manner that respects the land, environment, rights and cultures of indigenous peoples.

A resettled family in Papua New Guinea.
Photo — A resettled family in Papua New Guinea grows crops near their new home. We employ a number of practices for respecting property rights in communities where we operate, and we pay particular attention to those areas where indigenous peoples live.

Our operations can take place in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples. We respect and engage indigenous communities, and we work to protect their cultures and customs. We believe developing opportunities for indigenous communities to participate in training and employment benefits these communities and our business.

Our approach to interacting with indigenous peoples around the world is consistent with the principles of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability, and the World Bank Operational Policy and Bank Procedure on Indigenous Peoples.

Our operations in Alaska, Cameroon, Canada, Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Sakhalin Island involve working directly with indigenous peoples. Our first objective is to determine how each group prefers to be engaged. The community establishes its preference for how often and how long their members meet with ExxonMobil representatives, and who will provide its viewpoints or represent its wishes.

We are sensitive to local communities’ concerns about balancing their cultural heritage with the desire for economic development, even after our operations have ceased. Wherever we work with indigenous peoples, we support both local employment initiatives and cultural heritage programs through local content and strategic community investments.

Case study

Working with indigenous peoples in North Alaska

In the vicinity of our Point Thompson Project in northern Alaska, we work with the local communities and government authorities to understand their concerns and avoid conflicts with their traditional lifestyle. Through a comprehensive assessment and regular engagement, we have identified several areas of concern to the local people, and we have adopted corresponding measures to address these concerns.

For example, the Kaktovik community — located 60 miles to the east of the Project — relies, in part, on hunting and fishing for its food supply. The 22-mile Point Thompson Export Pipeline runs through caribou habitat, which occurs in many locations throughout northern Alaska.

Consequently, we designed the pipeline to be seven feet high to minimize the deflection of caribou migration patterns. Additionally, we have applied non-glare metallic coating on the outside of the pipeline to reduce visual effects on wildlife in the area. Through consultation with the residents of Kaktovik, we also designed the pipeline with thicker walls in certain areas to provide protection against accidental strikes from coastal hunters.

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