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Companies in Fragile Contexts: Redefining social investment

This publication grows out of structured reflection with Norsk Hydro (“Hydro”) management and staff and some of their civil society and government counterparts in the state of Pará in the Amazon region of Brazil. It explores the company’s experience since its 2011 acquisition of aluminium-related mining and industrial assets in a region of acute sociopolitical tension and chronic violence, reaching levels otherwise typically seen only in countries at war.

The study concludes that, the more fragile the context, the less meaningful it is to draw boundaries between the company’s operational impacts and the general socio-political conditions around it; inter-dependencies and systems dynamics loom too large. It explores a different kind of social investment: one that focuses more intentionally on helping to reinforce the social and political functions that are missing or compromised in the fragile context of which the company is part.