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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Where They Stand

Fred Pearce
Forest Peoples Programme

26 October, 2015

Where They Stand details how Wapichan people in South America use modern technologies in struggle to secure land rights

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Report calls on aluminium industry to respect indigenous peoples’ rights

16 November, 2015

Mining, the Aluminium Industry and Indigenous Peoples

*Press Release*

Geneva, Switzerland, 16 November 2015 – While global demand for the world’s most popular metal – aluminium – continues to rise, it is critical that the aluminium industry address its environmental and social impacts, particularly in indigenous peoples’ territories, according to new report published today by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Forest Peoples Programme (FFP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Mining, the Aluminium Industry and Indigenous Peoples: Enhancing Corporate Respect for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights


16 November, 2015

Mining, the Aluminium Industry and Indigenous Peoples

The report, Mining, the Aluminium Industry and Indigenous Peoples: Enhancing Corporate Respect for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, provides a global overview of the challenges facing indigenous peoples, and presents five case studies from Australia, Cambodia, Guinea, India and Suriname.  The case studies reveal that indigenous communities are affected by primary production activities, such as mining and associated infrastructure (Australia, India, Guine

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Indigenous peoples in Paraguay recommend action on land rights and national legal reforms to uphold community rights, slow deforestation and protect the climate

12 November, 2015

Asunción, November 12, 2015: Two new reports launched today by the Paraguayan Federation of Indigenous Peoples (FAPI) call for greater recognition of land rights and legislative reforms to secure community collective rights to land, tackle deforestation, curb land use emissions and harmonise national laws with international obligations to uphold human rights. [Only available in Spanish]

The reports can be downloaded here:

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Press Release: Human Rights groups call for palm oil moratorium in Palawan, Philippines

11 November, 2015

***Press Information for Immediate Release: 11th November 2015***

Human Rights groups call for palm oil moratorium in Palawan, Philippines: End land grabs and forest destruction now!

Puerto Princesa: 11th November 2015 - A recent fact-finding mission by regional human rights groups in the south-western island of Palawan, the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has revealed a pattern of land grabs and forest destruction by palm oil companies, partly owned by Malaysian and Singaporean investors.

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Baram Dam Declaration

10 November, 2015

Participants at the World Indigenous Summit on Environment and Rivers, WISER Baram 2015, hosted by the grassroots network SAVE Rivers collectively produced a declaration that acknowledges the widespread suffering and destruction caused by dams, and stresses the importance of obtaining Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from communities impacted by dam building.

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Oil palm land grabs and deforestation in Philippines condemned by human rights groups

9 November, 2015

A regional network of Asian human rights commissions and supportive NGOs has issued a strong statement supporting calls for a moratorium on palm oil expansion in the Philippines southern island of Palawan. The call came at the conclusion of a week of fact-finding trips and discussions of the 5th South East Asian Regional Conference on Human Rights and Agribusiness which was hosted by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the Coalition on Land Grabbing of the Philippines supported by the Forest Peoples Programme.

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AIPP calls for greater respect for indigenous rights in the safeguards of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

26 October, 2015

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Public Statement

23 October 2015 – Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact has called for greater respect for the rights of indigenous peoples inits comments [link to the letter] on the draft Environmental and Social Framework of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The comments endorsed by 119 organizations from 27 countries include recommendations for stronger safeguard for indigenous peoples.

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The Indigenous Wampis people of the Upper Amazon in Peru set to establish their own autonomous self governing body

28 September, 2015

The Indigenous Wampis people of the Upper Amazon in Peru are on the verge of establishing their own autonomous self governing  body to control and oversee their integral
territory. The Wampis communities reject large dam, road and hydrocarbon projects in their territory, (Statements and resolutions available in Spanish only).

Click here to view the statements

Statement A

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Nepali Communities Seek Justice for Violations in World Bank Project

15 July, 2015

Kathmandu, Nepal, July 14, 2015 – Last week an independent investigation revealed serious abuses in a World Bank-funded transmission line project in central Nepal. The Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line runs through indigenous and rural communities, who have been raising concerns about the project for over five years. Though the findings validate community concerns, the World Bank has not committed to correcting the damage caused by its failures in this project.

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