Social investment programmes are the voluntary contributions companies make to the communities and broader societies where they operate. The objective of such investments is to benefit local stakeholders, to establish and maintain good relationships with them, and enhance the company's positive social impact on its host society.

There are many examples of companies implementing social investment programmes that have made a significant contribution to the well-being of the surrounding communities. However, despite companies’ best efforts and ongoing engagement, other social investment programmes fail to generate the goodwill that companies expect, and instead become a burden beyond the originally intended implementation period. In the worst cases, well-intended initiatives may even be used by stakeholders against the companies.

IPIECA, an organization that brings oil and gas companies together to share experiences and good practices in the environmental and social spheres, has committed efforts dedicated to understand how to systematically address these questions. A guidance document on ‘Creating Successful, Sustainable Social Investment’ resulted from this work, and forms the basis for this paper.

This paper introduces a framework for the design of successful, sustainable social investment programmes. It has been proposed based on general observations, lessons learned and emerging trends collected from a series of interviews with social investment experts in oil and gas companies operating worldwide, which are discussed on this paper. The paper also brings a discussion on the proposed framework based on the experiences of IPIECA members and their stakeholders. It attempts to address questions of how to incorporate sustainability into social investment programmes and how to measure their impacts and benefits.

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