Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)

‘Free prior and informed consent’ (FPIC), is the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use. FPIC, for years advanced by FPP, is now a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples.

What does FPIC mean to forest peoples?

FPIC implies informed, non-coercive negotiations between investors, companies or governments and indigenous peoples prior to the development and establishment of oil palm estates, timber plantations or other enterprises on their customary lands. This principle means that those who wish to use the customary lands belonging to indigenous communities must enter into negotiations with them. It is the communities who have the right to decide whether they will agree to the project or not once they have a full and accurate understanding of the implications of the project on them and their customary land. As most commonly interpreted, the right to FPIC is meant to allow for indigenous peoples to reach consensus and make decisions according to their customary systems of decision-making.

What are some of the obstacles to FPIC?

On the practical level of carrying out FPIC, it can be problematic identifying who should verify that the right to FPIC has been respected and how this should be done. Making free, prior and informed consent work: challenges and prospects for indigenous peoples (FPP, June 2007), identifies some experiences with third-party audits for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in Indonesia and suggests that verifiers have been unduly lenient about what constitutes adequate compliance, thereby weakening any leverage that communities may gain from companies’ obligations to respect their rights and priorities in accordance with FSC voluntary standards.

However, the publication also demonstrates that verification of FPIC procedures by government as in the Philippines has also proven problematic.

Another challenge for indigenous peoples in their efforts to exercise their right to FPIC is to ensure that their systems of decision-making are genuinely representative and made in ways that are inclusive of, and accountable to, members of their communities.

By insisting on their right to FPIC, forest peoples have been able to block plantations and dams planned for their lands and have been able to negotiate fairer deals with palm oil developers, loggers and local government land use planners.

Why is FPIC important for companies and government?

The right of FPIC is necessary to ensure a level playing field between communities and the government or companies and, where it results in negotiated agreements, provides companies with greater security and less risky investments. FPIC also implies careful and participatory impact assessments, project design and benefit-sharing agreements. FPIC has been widely accepted in the ‘corporate social responsibility’ policies of private companies working in sectors such as dam building, extractive industries, forestry, plantations, conservation, bio-prospecting and environmental impact assessment.

Relevant resources

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Yerisiam Gua people of Papua face down land grabs and intimidation by palm oil company

28 April, 2016

INDONESIA: The Yerisiam Gua, an indigenous people in Nabire district in Indonesian Papua have filed a complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil against the palm oil developer, PT Nabire Baru.

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Secure territorial rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge must be central to post-conflict initiatives to save the Colombian Amazon and achieve sustainable development

25 April, 2016

Bogotá, April 25: A new report “Deforestation and indigenous peoples rights in the Colombian Amazon” co-published by social justice and environmental NGO DEDISE and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) underlines the critical role of secure land and territorial rights and traditional knowledge in sustaining one of the most culturally and biologically diverse forests on the planet.

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Deforestation and Indigenous Peoples Rights in the Colombian Amazon

25 April, 2016

Deforestation and Indigenous Peoples Rights in the Colombian Amazon

New report on indigenous peoples’ rights and deforestation in the Colombian Amazon highlights that effective measures to save the Amazonian forest need to uphold FPIC, secure land and territorial rights, and harness traditional knowledge.

Press release in English and Spanish here. Report available here (in Spanish only)

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Tongod villagers secure settlement of land claim with palm oil developer Genting Plantations

8 April, 2016

Sabah (Malaysia) - The High Court of Sabah just settled a landmark agreement between the indigenous Dusun and Sungai peoples of Tongod District and Genting Plantations. The case, which has dragged on since 1997 and been in the courts since 2002, concerns a large-scale palm oil development on community lands in central Sabah (North Borneo).

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Wampis autonomous government declares a state of environmental emergency after oil spill

24 March, 2016

The Wampis autonomous government has issued a Supreme Order declaring the area affected the oil spill in the community of Mayuriaga to be in a state of environmental emergency.

According to Peru’s regulatory body of the environment OEFA, 1,000 barrels of oil spilled into the community land on 3 February 2016 when a 40-year-old pipeline owned by the state oil company Petroperú ruptured.

The spill affected 400m2 of land, and flowed into the Cashacaño river, which then flows into the river Morona.

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FPIC not FPICon: when support is not enough

Forest Peoples Programme

16 March, 2016

FPP has released this briefing note reviewing the serious implementation challenges that the World Bank has faced in trying to meet its unique standard of ‘broad community support’ and argues for the adoption of the internationally recognised standard of free, prior and informed consent, now widely adopted by private and public sector financial institutions including by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group).

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Livelihoods and forests at increased risk if land rights are ignored, says new report

2 March, 2016

Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights

Indigenous Peoples and local communities protect half the world's land, but formally own just 10 percent, according to a report released today by a global alliance of NGOs.

London, March 2nd 2016: The Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights, backed by more than 300 organizations all over the world, launches today with the publication of a new report.

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Recognizing and expanding the territories of original peoples in Colombia is critical for the peace process

2 March, 2016

Press Note for the Global call to action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights

In Colombia, over 30% of the national territory has been officially titled to Indigenous Peoples, with some 6 million hectares of collective lands recognized for Afro-Descendant Communities. Nonetheless, in practice these territories are not recognized in the State’s actions, with mining, oil and gas, logging and other concessions issued unilaterally without upholding Indigenous or Afro-Descendant Peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent.

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Pushing for peace in Colombia: Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Peoples join forces to uphold their rights, address mining-related conflict

Forest Peoples Programme
Palenke Alto Cauca - Proceso de Comunidades Negras,
Resguardo Indígena Cañamomo Lomaprieta

2 March, 2016

 This executive summary/resumen ejecutivo synthesizes the outcomes of Year 1 (2014-2015) of a two year inter-ethnic project between the Embera Chamí People of the Resguardo Indígena Cañamomo Lomaprieta (Riosucio, Supía – Caldas) and Afro-Descendant Communities of the Palenke Alto Cauca – Proceso de Comunidades Negras (northern Cauca) aimed at organizational strengthening and territorial defense ar

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Respecting Rights? Assessing Oil Palm Companies’ Compliance with FPIC Obligations: A case study of EPO and KLK LIBINC Estate in Grand Bassa, Liberia

Forest Peoples Programme
Sustainable Development Institute

24 February, 2016

Respecting Rights? Assessing Oil Palm Companies’ Compliance with FPIC Obligations: A case study of EPO and KLK LIBINC Estate in

This review is the result of several years of fieldwork by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), and is the first step of a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) funded project that examines putting into practice in Liberia the FAO Technical Guide entitled ‘Respecting free, prior and informed consent, Practical guidance for governments, companies, NGOs, indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to land acquisition’.

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