You are on page 1of 5

WORKING TOGETHER

Authors: Gabriel Marcuz and Rodolfo Reale


Organization: Gasoducto Nor Andino (GDF Suez)
1. Introduction
Gasoducto Nor Andino, a GDF Suez subsidiary, is a natural gas pipeline of 1,100 km length and runs
through at least three different ecosystems in northern Argentina and Chile. These are some of the most
critical habitats for many species, particularly the Yungas Forest, considered by science as a hotspot for
biodiversity. Nonetheless, the area also involves a very delicate social scenario due to the conflicts for land
amongst aboriginal peoples against private owners and local governments. The construction of the
Gasoducto Nor Andino and two explosive pipeline ruptures which followed construction works months later
generated a strong reaction in the local communities and environmental organizations such as Greenpeace.
The paper describes the non-traditional and innovative actions taken to solve the initial problems and work
together with the local stakeholders to improve the social and economic condition taking the Companys
Ethical values without clashing with the thoughts and interests on which the other actors based their actions,
in general absolutely different.
2. Objectives
The objectives were set to deal with and improve the environment and social aspects at the same time. The
aim was to support the sustainable development of the Kolla people who live in the Yungas Forest based on
their own expectations and will. Gasoducto Nor Andino also aimed at protecting the ecosystem and soon
realized that there were two questions we needed to address proactively: people and forest.
2.1. Enviromental Sustainable Development
Due to the special conditions under which the project was developed, it was impossible to face the conflicts
as they appeared. Therefore, it was decided that an active role should be taken and the company became a
leader in sustainable development and defense of the environment in the region, by combining these
initiatives with government action forcing the authorities to set a precedent. It is not by chance that
environmental standards got raised after the Gasoducto Nor Andinos case influencing other companies in
the region.
2.2. Social-cultural Sustainable Development
In the social-cultural field, Gasoducto Nor Andinos social responsibility with the community made it
necessary to approach the problem from a different perspective. The needs of the aborigine communities
were understood and programs were developed to meet such needs involving their participation and
contribution, making everyone play an active role. Consequently, the communities regarded Gasoducto Nor
Andino as an ally of their territorial and cultural vindication and contributed to the improvement of their life
standard, by reaffirming their traditional customs and culture.
3. Development
All Gasoducto Nor Andino actions strictly observed the law right from the begining and were even more
meticulous so that in time such actions became a process inherently acquired and followed by all of its
members. The resolution of the problem related to the installation and operation of the pipeline in such an
ecologically and socially sensitive area could not be approached in a satisfactory way with traditional actions
from the management.
For every obstacle or problem encountered, particularly at the beginning where there was a conflict of
interests between the parties, Gasoducto Nor Andino always bore in mind that through negotiation a
satisfactory solution could be given to everyone involved, providing all positions were respected.
For such reason, innovative solutions were adopted.
The method consists in the following:

I. Strategy
Solving the conflicts raised during the construction stage and avoiding eventual conflicts with the aboriginal
communities and the authorities during the commercial operation called for an innovative strategy. In the
development of such strategy the ethical values of the company were taken as a basis and the parties to the
conflict became the protagonists of the solution.
II. Corporate image
The challenge here was to change the corporate image created by the Gasoducto Nor Andino opponents
during the construction stage and the two pipeline ruptures, in order to transform the image of a company
invading the Yungas forest into a leading company in terms of environmental conservationism improvement
and relations with local communities. In this way, the company could be regarded as an ally by
conservationist groups and aborigine communities.
III. Participation
All initiatives taken had to be feasible and to that end, Gasoducto Nor Andino took all due responsibility and
had an active role. Actions had to lead to tangible results and Gasoducto Nor Andino never made the easiest
choice: offering money to opposing parties. For instance, to construct the gas network for Humahuaca, which
was totally financed by Gasoducto Nor Andino and did not receive any payment, the company called for a
bidding process with Jujuy Province, hired a building company and supervised works regarding technical and
administrative aspects together with the zone distribution Company until gas was actually delivered to every
inhabitant.
Based on the above, the actual implementation of the strategy required innovative actions in line with ethical
values, team spirit and professionalism.
The participation and project commitment of all Gasoducto Nor Andino members, the NGOs, the
communities and the government authorities in the accomplishment of a common objective was essential to
the success of every action.
A multidisciplinary team covering the technical, social, and environmental aspects was formed with parties
representing different interests, it was possible to find creative and innovative responses to the major
problems encountered. Furthermore, the various actors shared a common objective: the ecosystem
conservation of the region and the development of the aborigine communities, under the concept of mutual
help partners.
The creation of added value has been an underlying objective in all the activities that were projected and
implemented.
The advantages of the plan are reflected in the following items:

The environment, since Gasoducto Nor Andinos presence in the region meant a starting point for
implementing nature conservation projects (not just the many initiatives financed by the company)
and also set an example for other companies in the region; the rise of government authorities
awareness regarding the need to work with other parties and improve regulations and environmental
controls.

The aboriginal communities, given the support by Gasoducto Nor Andino for their development
projects, achieved striking results in the capital stock. The growth of trust and understanding among
the Communities, the NGOs, the government and Gasoducto Nor Andino was key to this.

All participating organizations increased their capital stock in two different ways. First, because by
developing strong interpersonal bonds a solid internal network with the aboriginal communities was
formed. Moreover, all organizations increased their capital stock by generating links among them,
which allowed for improved external relations. Working in a distrustful environment can be
complicated, but one of our leading ideas has always been that conflicts, such as the ones faced by
the environment and the Communities, cannot be solved individually.

Ethical values
All the problems were successfully solved by acting in accordance with the following company values:
i.

Understanding the opposite position


2

Gasoducto Nor Andino pays special attention to the thoughts, values and interests on which the other actors
based their actions, particularly when they are absolutely different from ours. Therefore, Gasoducto Nor
Andino was able to and still understands that their main objective was to defend their own interests and not to
fight against the Company.
ii.

Clearly explaining the objectives

Being honest and explaining in detail the reasons why an issue could not be achieved.
iii.

Being reliable

When a promise is made, it is always fulfilled. Gasoducto Nor Andino has always been deeply committed to
keeping its promises.
5. Results
The different sectors involved were called together and labor agreements were signed with the environmental
NGOs such as Greenpeace, Fundacin Proyungas, Fundacin Vida Silvestre Argentina (local affiliate of the
WWF), representatives of the aboriginal communities, local authorities, the Municipality of Orn, Municipality
of Humahuaca, Hospital San Vicente de Paul in Orn, and environmental authorities (Parques Nacionales,
Environmental Secretariat of the province of Salta, etc.).
The most striking results obtained since 1998 can be summarized in the main projects implemented:
1) Creation of the National Reserve El Nogalar (3,500 ha) and the first Provincial Park of the
Province of Salta (Pintascayo of 12,000 ha): Gasoducto Nor Andino bought the plots of land and
donated them for the creation, along with Province of Salta, of those forest reserves.
2) Residential Natural Gas supply for the city of Humahuaca: Gasoducto Nor Andino supported and
financed all the construction of the distribution network and never received any money to supply gas
to a 10,000 people population. The natural gas supply to the city of Humahuaca meant a remarkable
improvement in the quality of life of the citizens in terms of health and economy, since the alternative
fuels used in the zone like wood or the bottled butane gas, produce in the first case a damage in the
enviroment and in the case of the butane gas, it is several times more expensive than the natural
gas.
3) Hydroelectric micro turbine for the Community of Los Naranjos: The project financed, organized
and implemented by Gasoducto Nor Andino will supply hydroelectric energy to the whole Los
Naranjos Community (within the Yungas). One of the most important characteristics of the project is
the organization of a cooperative in the same community, which will be in charge of managing the
system by ensuring its economic sustainability. The project contemplated the advice on the
organization of the cooperative and the training of the technical personnel who will be in charge of
maintaining the system with inhabitants of the same community, generating an organizational
environment in the community and work posts. The project started in 2003 and the start-up was in
2008. The generator, the micro turbine, its command station, the network and the internal instalation
are running. The system will provide electricity to around 100 families. The access to electricity will
allow them to conserve perishable goods in refrigerators, illumination, etc, which mean a remarkably
improvement of their quality of life.
4) Forest Certification Program (FSC): The main enemy of the Yungas is the clearing for
conventional crops and the overexploitation of the forest for the extraction of wood. This project is
unique in the country, both because of the region it covers and its multidisciplinary approach. The
entities participating in this project are the NGOs Greenpeace, Fundacin Proyungas and FVSA,
financed by Gasoducto Nor Andino since 2002. Under the technical supervision and advice of
outstanding environmental organizations and as part of the FSC the project aims to revert the
tendency to the indiscriminate forest felling and replace it by crops such as soy, as well as improving
the forest development systems in order to make it sustainable throughout time without degrading
the characteristics of the forest or its profitability due to overexploitation. Also, it aims to enable the
entry of the region to new and more attractive markets for its by-products, thus increasing its
production added value. The main results obtained up to now are: Implementation of plans of forest
handling of three lumber producers, implementation of a plan of environmental repair in Valle
Morado, which is under development of commercial agreements with buyers so that they acquire
certified products at differential prices, and participation in the network of responsible forest
commerce.
3

5) Development of Community Nurseries: One of the main activities of the aborigine inhabitants of
the region is agriculture. Two nurseries were built in 2001 (and are still working) in order to develop
this activity. The autochthonous species are under study by means of methods to obtain better
return, and experiments are made with exotic species in order to verify the feasibility of growing them
in the region. Also, technical advice is provided on an ongoing basis, which contributes to the
research and development of other community projects related to the farming activity, such as cattle
vaccination campaigns, technical advice on breeding and health of animals, etc. About 2,000 forest
and fruit trees were delivered to more than a hundred aborigine families.
6) First Aid Post El Oculto and San Andres: El Oculto is a small town in the forest of Yungas, with
precarious living and sanitary conditions. This project aimed to improve their standard of living. The
project was completed in May 2005 and it is now in full operation. This Project represented a further
step in the integration of Gasoducto Nor Andino with the surrounding environment and its motivating
function in the development of the region. The Municipality of Orn, the Provincial Hospital of Orn
and some private companies performing activities in the region participated in this Project led by
Gasoducto Nor Andino. This post allows health authorities to implement assessments in order to
detect endemic illnesses and develop plans to control them and early detection of diseases and
effective treatments. This meant a real improve in the populations quality of life. Later, in 2006,
Gasoducto Nor Andino started to support the construction of the new health centre in San Andres
town and finance all its operation, in one year of work, the Doctor in San Andrs assisted 534 people
of the 70 families living in the area.
7) Proyungas Scientific Research Program: It was essential to implement management plans and
measures to protect the forest of Yungas due to the lack of information and studies carried out in
such ecosystem. For that reason, Gasoducto Nor Andino has financed the Proyungas Program since
1999 in order to promote scientific research applied to the sustainable preservation and handling of
resources in the Yungas forest. This was achieved with the technical support offered by LIEY, an
entity depending from the National University of Tucumn and FVSA. From the beginning of the
program 55 projects have been carried out.
8) Construction of a bridle path in the Community of Cianzo: This community is located in a difficult
access valley. For that reason, and together with the Community of Cianzo, who contributed their
manpower, Gasoducto Nor Andino constructed a bridle path for road traffic that significantly shortens
the traveling times to the other cities.
9) Funding the management of the Yala Pasture Provincial Park: Gasoducto Nor Andino together
with other companies finances the administration of this reserve, close to the city of San Salvador de
Jujuy, which preserves a sector of Mountain Forests and Foggy Pastures with 4300 hectares.
10) Classroom in San Andrs School: Gasoducto Nor Andino built new classrooms in San Andrs
School. These new facilities have allowed a better infrastructure to develop the educative activities.
11) Scholarship Program in San Andrs and Los Naranjos: Gasoducto Nor Andino has been
developing jointly with Colegio Polimodal Los Naranjos (High School) a scholarship and workoriented training program since 2007. The program involves short courses delivered at the school
with the aim of providing technical knowledge to the graduated pupils and economic support to pupils
who desire to follow further studies. Once graduated, the person who received the scholarship has to
make communitarian works in their community. Up to now, the program has benefited more than 30
people between courses and scholarships.
Every Program is constantly evaluated by Gasoducto Nor Andino and all relevant organizations. All staff in
charge of each Project send data updating the information or directly contact the company to define the
strategies and to solve daily problems. Periodic meetings with the ONGs are held, addressing the
development of the Program and suggesting new items which need to be solved as well as new actions to be
taken.
7. Conclusions
The best way to appreciate the results of the strategy used is to see how key people who actively participated
in the conflict have changed their opinions and attitudes regarding Gasoducto Nor Andino:
Following are the statements of the main opponents to the pipeline construction:
During the pipeline construction stage, Eusebio Condor, the leader of the aborigine communities in the
region, stated at an interview for the international press (1998): We are seriously affected because we
cannot travel on horseback or foot to take food supplies to the families living in the high areas
During the pipeline construction stage, Emiliano Ezcurra, the most representative member of Greenpeace
Argentina, pointed out at an interview for the national press (1998): This should have never happened. We
4

proposed a very specific alternative but it was not accepted and at a demonstration before the gas regulatory
authority in Argentina (ENARGAS) during construction stage (1998): We are here delivering more than
15,000 letters and faxes we have received requesting the Directors (of ENARGAS) not to approve the Nor
Andino pipeline
Emiliano Ezcurra, said before the national press after an accident occurred to the pipeline (2002): The Nor
Andino stubbornness is everyday clearer. We know Nor Andino wants to send gas to Chile as soon as
possible, because every day of delay is tragic for them, and every day that the pipeline operates is tragic for
the forest and the people living here
However, after Gasoducto Nor Andinos actions it is possible to see a great change of opinions by those who
opposed to the pipeline:
Eusebio Condor stated in an interview in 2004: We did our best to prevent it from happening. The pipeline
construction, once completed, marked the beginning of the coexistence between Nor Andino and the
communities
Javier Corcuera (former Executive Director of FVSA) said about Gasoducto Nor Andino in 2004: We are
very proud of having helped to reach a solution [] Civil society and companies can agree on highly effective
ways to change and improve the reality
Emiliano Ezcurra stated about Gasoducto Nor Andin in 2004: What can Greenpeace say after carrying on
one of the most important campaign in Argentina for 7 years we cant deny that there was an important
reaction that we can now see clearly after 7 years. Despite the inconvenient caused by the pipeline works,
Nor Andino has now become an example to follow for future works of similar magnitude. The company
stayed in the place rather than leaving and started to carry out a number of activities and obviously the onsite participation of other institutions that worked along with local people yielded the positive results we can
see today
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Gasoducto Nor Andinos permission to publish this case history is gratefully acknowledged.