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You know there is a better way to do what you want done. Are you open to work with someone who profoundly understands such a way and can help you make it happen? Are you open for your project to be successful in a way that is also fundamentally good for the local community and sustainable development?

Do you want this to bridge the gaps between the technical, business and community worlds?

We call this Smart Engagement.

What is Smart Engagement?

Smart Engagement is an engagement process co-designed with stakeholders.

It allows you to remove barriers, and create and sustain constructive dialogue with your key stakeholders to achieve an optimum project.

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What is Smart Engagement?

Why Integrate Smart Engagement?

 Why Integrate Smart Engagement?

Smart Engagement is your passport to success in today’s complex world.

It is a sure way to that successful outcome – to a permit for a project that enables the vision of all impacted parties.

Besides, if you’re in it for the long run, there are few alternatives that avoid building in business risks to projects having a community impact.

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Start your Smart Engagement journey now

Download Smart EngagementDownload our book “Smart Engagement: Why, What, Who and How”

This gives context for how Smart Engagement could help your project, your team or your mission. If you need more specific information or an assessment of solutions for your needs, let us know.

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How we can help you


We use Smart Engagement to help you create your roadmap to success and work with you to ensure it happens.

We assess the current situation against your desired goals

Map out where you are in your project and what you want to achieve, get to know where you are scoring own goals, where your stakeholder risks lie and where you stand from a Smart Engagement perspective.

We train, coach and build capacity for engagement

Build a focused team (from senior management down to implementation teams), Smart Engagement strategy & plan, processes and skills to implement Smart Projects – ones that are wanted by you and by your projects’ neighbours. All training is bespoke for your needs. All coaching is designed to empower you and your team, so you can make great projects happen, time and time again.

We help you implement

We make sure that the Smart Engagement plan we create with you for your project is rolled out. We do this in partnership with your team and other key stakeholders, and with as much hands-on input from us as is required to get the job done.

What you achieve through Smart Engagement

Smart Engagement creates focused teams

Your team understands clearly the root problems to your challenges. They are empowered and fully skilled to embark upon their road to a successful project.

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Smart Engagement creates focused teams
Smart Engagement creates trust

Smart Engagement creates trust

You will know how to get to the partnerships you need to achieve a project wanted by you and all your stakeholders.

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Smart Engagement builds and nurtures relationships

Your project team will be extended to include your project’s key stakeholders. They are empowered to set common goals and find solutions to get there.

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Smart Engagement creates relationships
Smart Engagement results in the right design

Smart Engagement results in the best possible project design

You innovate. Your empowered team designs the best possible project and all the stakeholders win.

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Smart Engagement leads to projects everyone wants

Your project is underway. You need the right information on the right desk, at the right time and in the right format. Concerns, fears, needs, expectations and opportunities are acknowledged and addressed in an inclusive, responsive and efficient way.

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Smart Engagement leads to projects supported by all concerned

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The Smart Engagement blog

Project development is somewhat like an iceberg. The information we don’t have at the outset is very much the bit under the water. And the bit in sight can often be unstable. A foundation, which includes a Social Licence, needs to be built. Project developers tend to rely on finding the information required to build this by contracting the right professionals. Yet, nowadays, when multiple stakeholders are potentially impacted, this is no longer sufficient. This article outlines the need (and a path to the how) for a win-win mindset at the top levels.
05.02.2019 - 09:45
I have had a lecture in trust recently. From a group of near neighbours to an energy project. They knew I believed in both the project and the need to earn a Social Licence to Operate. The project needed to be designed as a win-win for both the developer and the local community. We had built a decent level of trust together. But after a period away, the term ‘trust’ was being used in a very different context. Download this article that shows that strong governance and stakeholder engagement standards and competences are crucial to build a Social Licence to Operate.
18.04.2019 - 17:26


"Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) have worked with, and funded projects through communities delivered expertly by AstonECO. AstonECO professionally demonstrates the community-led development ethos that underpins the LEADER Rural Development Programme delivered by CLDC. Tourism, community development and energy projects delivered through capacity building, training and community engagement are core strengths of AstonECO, and while some projects were challenging, AstonECO always sought for the highest standards of delivery, best practice and the greatest benefit for the community."

Gloria Callinan, LEADER programme coordinator, Clare Local Development Company

"We were struggling to find the best way to get and keep our local community on board with our energy projects. AstonECO provided the solutions for us. We received their training and were surprised to discover how much our mindset had to change. Not only did AstonECO change our thinking, they also provided us with the tools, support and advice we needed. The contribution of AstonECO is essential nationally if we are to have a smooth energy transition between now and 2050."

Dara Ó Maoildhia, Aran Islands Energy Co-op

“These solutions should be incorporated by every company before investing and maintained throughout the process.”

Vassillios Carellas, CEO Ortac Resources, UK

“astoneco is one of the most experienced and qualified professional teams in the sustainability field I have worked with. I trust their ability to deliver high quality results in sustainable business development, capacity building and conflict prevention and resolution to name a few.”

Mircea Mocanu, Head of Socio-Economic Section, UNDP Romania

“The astoneco team excels at empowering both companies and communities to address pressing business sustainability challenges through effective stakeholder engagement. This is essential to ensure a common-sense approach to managing social risk and opportunity.”

Hugh Attwater, Head of Social Performance, Petrofac Services Limited, UK

“Stakeholder Engagement and Community Relations are of specific importance for our business’s social license to operate. Through this programme with astoneco, we gave our people the tools to develop successful projects, which support our business and which support also our stakeholders.”

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Sonja Böhme, Head of Corporate Sustainability, OMV, Austria

“We have worked with astoneco to help us identify, assess and manage our stakeholder-related risks for one of our sustainable production projects (Urlați). This enabled us to economically meet or exceed our company standards and project timelines.”

Ramona Brad, Director External Affairs, Procter and Gamble Romania and Balkans

Our Mission

To cultivate clarity, partnerships and management processes within and between organisations, communities and authorities to make projects that everyone wants.

Our Values

Respect. We respect each other, our clients, our partners and the right of everyone to take part in decisions that affect them.

Clarity. We strive for clear understanding by all stakeholders of current realities, objectives, risks, aspirations and opportunities, in order to enable informed decisions.

Creativity. We work to stimulate creativity in thought and action, with a view to reach common objectives and mobilise required innovations.

Can-do. We believe there are solutions to our shared challenges and we know that together we can realise them.

Our Vision

Organisations, communities, government bodies and individuals are successful through contributing to a prosperous and sustainable society.

Programme Overview

This document gives an overview of the project and some of its key considerations.

The project researched, developed, trailed & critically examined a successful approach* to enable developers and project neighbours to design energy projects wanted by both, through an inclusive and informed decision making process.

Results, guidance and case studies are provided to build confidence in the use of this approach

* Successfully applied to over 20 infrastructure, energy and natural resource projects in 10 countries.

Situation Analysis

When it comes to wind farms in Ireland, there are those who are totally in favour, those who are totally opposed, and many in between. Where do these vastly differing viewpoints come from?

Listening to, understanding and acknowledging the perspectives of neighbours, industry and government enables effective discussions in the decision making process.

Literature Review

Early on in the project, the solutions being offered through the building of a Social License to Operate (SLO) were examined through this literature review. The review digs deep into the opportunities & challenges therein.

The SLO concept is used extensively in the extractive industries. More recently it has been applied to wind farms.

Core to the approach is the examination and addressing of distributional and procedural justice issues as well as potential negative externalities associated with their operations

Guide to earning local support for energy projects in Ireland

While project developers put significant effort into a project’s readiness for finance, a strategic focus on what the project means for local communities is equally important.

This often requires a place where all potentially impacted individuals can find out the full facts of what is being proposed, before a project is designed.

But how can such a process be established? This guide looks at a process to do this.

Local Support Checklist

Experience from projects with potential community impacts – be it renewable energy infrastructure, natural resource developments, tourism or infrastructure – shows that there are some basic steps that a project developer, and a community, ignore at their peril.

This Quick Guide acts as an aid memoire to ensure these steps are taken in time.

Case Studies

Busy people want to see that an approach can deliver before adopting it. Especially an approach that requires some change and significant investment in time and resources.

If other peers in the industry have not tried it out yet and proven it works then this is more so the case. It would be nice if all solutions were de-risked before having to choose them. But being a leader in the field also has its benefits.

A series of projects have been undertaken to help demonstrate and build confidence in the approach outlined in the Guide to design projects wanted by both neighbours and developers.

To focus in on detail, each project demonstrates different combinations of aspects of the Guide.

Some of these case studies are named and are ongoing; others have preferred to remain unnamed for now.


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Next steps

Turning current community concerns into strengths through re-imagining how the wind industry designs projects is a great opportunity to significantly improve the earning of local support.

It also has great potential to contribute to another government policy pillar besides that of decarbonisation our economy: namely to meet our sustainable development goals.

To facilitate this, an accelerated process to address the concerns of decision makers so they have the confidence to embrace this opportunity is needed.

This section documents further work and research that will help this happen.