I’m accountable for engaging Duke Energy International (DEI) Brazil’s stakeholders — including those who live and work around our nine power plants and reservoirs.
In 2010, we began identifying groups of stakeholders who are affected by our business. Then we started talking to them about our respective needs and concerns — opening new channels of communication and understanding. By engaging with community leaders, government officials, environmental agencies and others, we have discovered new and better ways to address conflicting goals and interests.
One example is our work in Avaré, a tourist hotspot that borders one of our reservoirs. Duke Energy has certain responsibilities, in cooperation with government authorities, to protect the reservoir margins classified as preservation areas. The government restricts new construction along the 3,100 miles of borders around our reservoirs; however, Avaré’s community leaders had somewhat inconsistent objectives. Business was booming, and the waterfront areas were prime locations for expansion by local developers.
Using our new model of engagement, we met with community leaders and local media to explain our environmental obligations. We followed up with a media campaign and community events, including an environmental-themed marathon, to educate the public on preservation issues. We also partnered with the local fire department and town officials to promote safe recreational use of the reservoir. Consequently, we built a stronger partnership with the community, and promoted a culture of mutual respect and environmental stewardship.
Our stakeholder engagement process in Brazil is being used as the basis for a model that has been developed for DEI’s use throughout Latin America.
It is amazing what happens when we communicate — and work toward mutually beneficial solutions. While we still have work to do in this area, I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made.