I first heard the words “meeting under the mango tree” as a euphemism for having a predictable, easy to access process for enabling community members to raise issues and concerns in a safe and familiar place.  There is no fixed agenda and no one-size-fits-all for these exchanges. With one company we set up drop-in centres in each local village with a designated community officer in attendance everyday. Another made it known that a company person would be available “under the mango tree” for two hours every market day. I am hoping this blog will achieve something similar – the regular, free and open sharing of ideas and experiences. Time will tell how well it works out.

Orienting yourself (2021 update)

Responsible Business Management |  1 July 2021

(the new bits are links to human rights and indigenous peoples resources)

We make assumptions all the time. Sometimes they are reasonable and sometimes they are wrong and lead to serious consequences. Investing an hour to do a little on-line research to learn about the country where your project is located will be time well spent. While there are any number of sites to choose, I find some to be more useful than others.

UNDP Country Reports opens up with an interactive map and allow a quick scan or a deep dive (your call) into demography, health, education, equality, poverty and employment. The LDCs at a Glance is a useful resource if you are looking to establish a presence in one of the 47 UN designated Least Developed Countries. 

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) country reports give a great overview of the salient health issues.

EITI will help you to understand a bit about government accountability while the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index pretty much speaks for itself.

The World Factbook has a wealth of information. Simply select your country to get started. Nationsonline is another place to go for general information.

Broadening the search a little - combining "country name + industry + human rights" will provide you with a sense of the law and order situation, presence of civil society groups and what legacy your industry has (good or bad). The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is also worth a look. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) website has detailed country reports and to-the-point summaries of the state of indigenous peoples' rights in countries on all continents.

By also looking at the data for your own country (Australia in my case) you can use it as a benchmark to give you a feel for how far you might be getting outside your comfort zone. It also serves as a reminder that you need to be careful not to project your preconceived ideas of what is "normal" out too far. The Hans Rosling video below is another useful - and dare I say more entertaining way - to reality check on "normal".

As an alternative to doing your own research, and if you have the money, you can pay for someone else to do the legwork. INGA for example "...draws on established, reliable sources of data. With easy-to-use click and search functions, users can select from over 300 indicators to produce custom-made reports that cover the full range of topics relevant to a country’s social and human rights context."

Whichever method you choose, you really don't have any excuse for going in blind.


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