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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Hollow Promises: An FPIC assessment of Golden Veroleum and Golden Agri-Resource’s palm oil project in Liberia

Forest Peoples Programme

15 April, 2015

Hollow promises

Several years of fieldwork by the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and civil society partners in Liberia has revealed the extent to which palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) and its lead investor Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) are continuing to operate without the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of local communities within their concession area, despite the companies’ claims to have learned from past mistakes.

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Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous Perspectives on Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon

Forest Peoples Programme
AIDESEP

4 December, 2014

Revealing the Hidden

 

The report, Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous perspectives on deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon was compiled by Peru’s national indigenous peoples’ organisation (AIDESEP) and international human rights organisation, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and is based on the analysis and perspectives of Peru’s indigenous leaders and organisations whose lives, lands and livelihoods are threatened by deforestation on a daily basis.

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PRESS RELEASE: Harmful Social and Environmental Impacts of Liberia Palm Oil Project Exposed

1 April, 2015

Golden Veroleum and Golden Agri-Resource’s palm oil operations in Liberia are compounding poverty and food insecurity by taking land without community consent and making hollow promises of development benefits, says new report

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Forest Peoples Programme complaint against Golden Agri Resources upheld

9 March, 2015

Palm oil conglomerate criticised for multiple violation of RSPO’s requirements that lands only be acquired from indigenous peoples and local communities with their free, prior and informed consent.

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Sengwer ask: "How can you ask for constructive dialogue, while you are destroying our homes?"

3 March, 2015

The burnings of Sengwer homes by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) resumed last week while at the same time, the Sengwer are expected to sit down tomorrow to discuss constructive ways forward with the same Government whose agencies burn their homes. This is intolerable to the Sengwer who are calling for an urgent meeting today with the organisers of tomorrow's International Colloquium - the World Bank and the Government of Kenya - so that such harassment can be stopped permanently before the talks begin.

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ALDAW: CSO Letter to EU

23 February, 2015

Update from ALDAW:

The CSO letter to the EU has now been fully finalised, with 197 signatories, of which 18 are from the Philippines and amongst these 4 are from Palawan-based organisations and federations.

The final version of the letter here. There is a link to the letter and short article on FoEE's website http://www.foeeurope.org

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Joint AIPP and FPP submission to the World Bank

17 February, 2015

The purpose of this submission is to highlight key issues for indigenous peoples in the new Environmental and Social safeguard system proposed by the World Bank. The policies referred to herein are the Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) and the Environmental and Social Standards (ESS), 1 through 10, with particular focus on ESS7 on indigenous peoples.

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New Report Finds Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Lagging behind on Social Responsibility Commitments

19 January, 2015

RAN APP Report

Field interviews with 17 affected Indonesian communities reveal policy implementation problems while hundreds of unresolved land conflicts endure.

San Francisco, CA – A field­based survey to investigate Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) performance, provide input into an evaluation of APP’s progress on fulfilling its social responsibility commitments, and make recommendations to the company finds little evidence to date that APP is taking sufficient action to resolve land conflict issues.

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'Our Fight' - Defending the forest and paying the ultimate sacrifice

15 January, 2015

On 1st September 2014 Edwin Chota and three indigenous Asheninka leaders were murdered while defending their forests.

Through their widows, family and friends we learn about their on going fight for land titling in Peru. This story is one of many examples of Indigenous Peoples defending the forest and paying the ultimate sacrifice, launched just ahead of COP20 in Lima.

You can find other short films on a similar issue at If Not Us Then Who: http://www.ifnotusthenwho.me/

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Congo Basin communities and NGOs mobilise in response to growing palm oil threat in the region

5 January, 2015

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), local communities, and Indigenous people groups in the Congo Basin have convened to address the emerging challenges of palm oil development in the region. Hosted by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in Douala, Cameroon, meetings were held from December 2-4, 2014 attended by nearly 40 civil society experts and community leaders from over 25 organizations. Insightful presentations were made, and strategic reflections and discussions took place in order to address communities' challenges related to palm oil expansion in the region.

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