Community Development Agreements

At a Glance
  • Community development agreements (CDAs) are made between extractive companies and the communities affected by their operations.
  • CDAs range in their complexity and strength. The most comprehensive are similar to contracts and have formal complaint mechanisms.
  • CDAs' key advantage over government regulations is that they are context-specific: most apply to only one site of operations.

Case Studies

Key Resources

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Mining Community Development Agreements: Source Book

The aim of this handbook is to support strategic and collaborative community development planning by governments, companies, civil society, ...

Why Agreements Matter

This resource provides guidance on integrating agreements into communities and social performance. Rio Tinto is used as an example to ...

Emerging Practices in Community Development Agreements

This resource reviews existing research on community development agreements (CDAs), as well as available agreements from the extractive ...

Topic Briefing

Local procurement in the extractive sector is increasingly regulated throughh what are generally referred to as community development agreements (CDAs). These are arrangements made between extractive companies and the communities affected by their operations. They are known by other names as well: impact benefit agreements (IBAs) in Canada, indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) in Australia, and mining cooperation agreements (MCAs) in Mongolia. The first such agreements were made between extractive companies and indigenous communities in Australia and in Canada. The mining company Rio Tinto concluded its first CDA in 1995 in Australia, and as of 2016 had over 40 CDAs across its operations.[1]

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CDAs range from a broad set of principles laid out in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to complex and comprehensive agreements that are similar to contracts and have formal complaint mechanisms. In some cases, such as Mongolia for mining, having an agreement is a technical requirement to start operations. In other cases, like many provinces in Canada, a CDA is not formally required, though a proposed project is not likely to be approved without such an agreement.

CDAs often include provisions for a number of aspects of extractive operations, including local procurement, with a focus on either supply or demand. Common approaches to the subject mirror that seen in regulations and contracts. One advantage of CDAs over national regulations is that they are generally made for only one specific site (or, in some  cases, a cluster of extractives industry sites). This allows tailored, context-specific approaches to local procurement that are not possible in a nationwide regulation. Because of the confidential nature of CDAs, their effectiveness in driving local procurement has not been researched. 

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[1] Jo-Anne Everingham et al., Why Agreements Matter (Victoria, Australia and London, UK: Rio Tinto, 2016), 2, 9.