Working with local communities

Report Jan. 5, 2021

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Working with local communities


ExxonMobil believes that early planning and engagement with communities are critical components for successful projects and operations. Our stakeholder engagement process provides an opportunity for community input to be considered, as appropriate, in the planning process for projects and operations.  Our approach also requires all activities and operations to include a process for collecting grievances from communities and workforces. When implementing the stakeholder engagement process, dedicated personnel are responsible for community engagement, as well as receiving, tracking, analyzing and responding to community grievances. The grievance process incorporates guidance on best practices from the International Finance Corporation and IPIECA.

ExxonMobil’s Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard is designed to support the identification of potential socioeconomic risks and opportunities early in the lifecycle of upstream projects. Our standard also helps ensure we comply with host-country regulations, respect human rights, build local economic capacity and engage with relevant external groups. We regularly review and revise the standard to confirm consistency with industry best practices.

Land use and resettlement 


We adhere to a host country’s regulatory requirements that govern land use, as well as our own internal standards. For externally financed projects, we comply with lender stipulations regarding land use, access and resettlement requirements. ExxonMobil aims to minimize involuntary resettlement through a disciplined site-selection process. We assess locations based on accessibility, safety, environmental, socioeconomic and specific land use standards. When physical or economic displacement occurs, we implement location-specific resettlement action plans to restore the livelihoods of displaced populations. ExxonMobil develops plans through consultations with affected community members, government officials, landowners and surveys of assets, including housing structures, gardens, wildlife and harvesting areas. 

Cultural heritage and diversity


At ExxonMobil, our respect for the cultural heritage and customs of local communities carries into our business practices through project design and execution. We take into account cultural and spiritual considerations, heritage sites, biodiversity conservation, traditional knowledge and efficient use of resources in our project designs.

We use a cultural heritage-identification process to recognize potential sites of cultural significance. If the recovery or relocation of an artifact is appropriate, ExxonMobil develops tailored procedures in consultation with technical experts, local communities and appropriate host-country government officials. We also train our construction and field contractor personnel to identify different types of cultural heritage in the areas where we work.

Image Chance Finds Protocol training for construction supervisors in Papua New Guinea.
Chance Finds Protocol training for construction supervisors in Papua New Guinea.

2019 performance and initiatives

We value the diverse cultural histories of the areas where we operate. We look for opportunities to help preserve cultural heritage by prudently managing our own operations and making strategic community investments. For example, in 2019, ExxonMobil Papua New Guinea Limited supported the Hiri Moale festival for the sixth consecutive year. This annual festival celebrates the Motu Koitabu culture, originating in the Hiri West area of Central Province near our operations. By supporting the event, ExxonMobil helps uphold the unique cultural traditions of the Motu Koitabu people. The festival provides a platform for young Motu Koita women to build self-confidence and extend their personal networks.

Indigenous peoples 


Indigenous peoples — who make up culturally distinct societies and communities — are often vulnerable to underrepresentation in governments and in decision-making processes. ExxonMobil seeks to understand the different perspectives of indigenous peoples and incorporate their feedback into project planning, design, execution and operation. Our interactions with indigenous peoples around the world are consistent with the principles of the following frameworks:

  • International Labor Organization Convention 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • International Finance Corporation Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability
  • World Bank Operational Policy and Bank Procedure on Indigenous Peoples

We participate in IPIECA’s task force on free prior and informed consent, which focuses on developing best practices for working with indigenous peoples. IPIECA continues to monitor developments related to this topic and holds periodic meetings and webinars to share local knowledge and discuss emerging trends.

Meaningful engagement is a key aspect of free prior and informed consent. ExxonMobil is committed to conducting meaningful consultations with indigenous peoples, incorporating traditional knowledge and land use information into our plans, and promoting community engagement programs that respect indigenous peoples’ traditions and cultures.


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Around the world, ExxonMobil aims to be a preferred business partner, neighbor, employer and supplier. We maintain a corporate-wide commitment to safeguarding the health and security of our employees and the public, responsibly managing our social impacts, and upholding respect for human rights in our operations.

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Community investments

ExxonMobil works closely with the communities where we operate to identify and invest in initiatives that help support their needs. We collaborate with governments and local stakeholders to invest in programs that promote local economic growth and help improve social conditions.

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