Social licence ‘critical for infrastructure providers’

A failure to win and maintain a social licence in the infrastructure sector can lead to extreme community backlash and costly delays, a new paper has warned.

Where governments and businesses have adequately developed and maintained their social licence to operate, and earned the trust of the community, however, they are able to deliver assets and services in a streamlined manner.

The insights are contained in Building Trust: Social License for Infrastructure, a report developed by L.E.K. Consulting for Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

Based on a review of case studies and social licence literature, the paper outlines nine key principles that should underpin how infrastructure organisations develop and manage their social licence to operate.

The paper says this is “defined by the community trusting that an organisation will acting in line with the community’s expectations beyond what is required by legal or regulatory frameworks”.

“While the concept of social licence is not new, events in Australia over recent years have generated greater scrutiny and a new tenor of public debate about the operations and behaviour of all types of institutions (including governments, corporations, investors and not-for-profits),” the paper notes.

“This has in turn attracted greater focus on social licence in the public discourse, and within organisations and governments”.