Improving social impact analysis in the Central American energy sector

In Central America, the construction of large-scale renewable energy projects has been the source of tension with neighboring communities, who feel uninformed or consulted about the projects. Additionally, women’s interests have tended to be misrepresented where consultative processes exist.
To address these issues, governments have made efforts to further regulate how social impact assessments are conducted, particularly with a human rights and gender equality framework. Despite the establishment of this bylaw, implementation has remained challenging.
AGENT provided technical support to USAID’s Comunidades y Energia Renovable (CER, Spanish acronym; Communities and Renewable Energy) activity on transparent renewable energy development by building trust between stakeholders and enhancing local community engagement. Implemented by Iniciativa Climatica de Mexico, the project works to ensure local communities—particularly indigenous peoples—are included in early development planning in order to reduce potential conflicts and ensure respect for local autonomy and rights to self-determination.

AGENT supported the project in the implementation of participatory diagnostics to understand how key actors view the development of locally-based large-scale renewable energy projects in the Yucatan and Chihuahua regions. Showcasing global example strategies and approaches on how large energy projects work with women and men from local communities, AGENT also trained renewable energy teams on conducting gender-sensitive and responsive community outreach and social impact evaluations.

Additionally, AGENT supported the development of a theory of change to guide the development of a public policy that can deliver more inclusive renewable energy projects. CER reported that thanks to AGENT, it is more conscious about not only consistently including women in community engagement and information collection, but also ensuring gender considerations are included in all reports to ensure the differentiated views of women and men are addressed at all levels.