Big data has the potential to revolutionize the way social risks are managed by providing enhanced insight to enable more informed actions to be taken. The objective of this paper is to share the approach taken by PETRONAS to leverage big data to enhance its social performance practice, specifically in social risk assessments and grievance mechanism.

The paper will deliberate on the benefits, challenges and opportunities to improve the management of social risk through analytics, and how PETRONAS has taken those factors into consideration in the enhancement of its social risk assessment and grievance mechanism tools. Key considerations such as disaggregation of data, the appropriate leading and lagging indicators and having a human rights lens to data will also be discussed.

Leveraging on big data is still in its early stages in the social risk space, similar with other areas in the oil and gas industry according to research by Wood Mackenzie. Even so, there are several concerns which include; the aggregation of data may result in risks to minority or vulnerable groups not getting surfaced; privacy breaches which violate human rights and potential discrimination due to prescriptive analysis, such as on a community's propensity to pose certain social risks to projects or operations. Certainly, there are many challenges ahead which need to be considered, including how best to take a human rights approach to using big data.

Nevertheless, harnessing the power of big data will help social risk practitioners turn a high volume of disparate pieces of raw data from grievance mechanisms and social risk assessments into information that can be used to avoid or mitigate risks now and in the future through predictive technology. Consumer and other industries are benefiting from this leverage now, and social performance practitioners in the oil and gas industry can emulate these proven models.

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