The Riau Province, where APRIL and Asian Agri have been operating since the 1980s, has a growing population and offers an abundance of natural resources and a developing economy centered on the oil, gas and agricultural sectors.
To measure this contribution to Riau’s social and economic well-being, APRIL and Asian Agri engaged the Tanoto Foundation to design and then commission a study to measure the impacts of APRIL’s and Asian Agri’s business activities in Riau Province between 1982 and 2012 at a regional and national level. The aim of the study is to measure and quantify the primary contributions to local economic development, household welfare, community lifestyle, and patterns of land use and its impact on poverty reduction in Riau Province.
One of the key drivers of the study was to establish and nurture relationships with local communities in order to maintain each company’s social license to operate. By acting on the results of the study, the company aims to further improve this business-enabling environment in the medium to long term.
The research findings have helped APRIL and Asian Agri measure their contributions to social and economic development in a scientific and systematic way. The process has been a positive one because in addition to gaining knowledge and insight, the direct engagement required for the social impact assessment (for example, through the household survey, interviews and focus group discussions) has led to improved relationships with the communities.
The results will help measure the impact of particular initiatives and identify areas for improvement and best practice delivery that might be shared. These will also inform the design and focus of existing and future community engagement as the region evolves and new challenges emerge. Going forward, APRIL and Asian Agri will also be looking at determining their overall contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, mapping out how the impacts of their business activities contribute to relevant SDGs.