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Free, Prior and Informed Consent

The right of a group of people, usually an indigenous community, to be consulted with and to provide or withhold their consent, prior to the establishment of any project that stands to directly affect their access to lands, territories or resources that they have traditionally owned, occupied or used. Obtaining a community’s FPIC involves governments or companies engaging with local communities to agree together on how, or whether, projects are implemented. It is also a crucial part of gaining a social license to operate.

A government must also obtain the FPIC of indigenous peoples before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Any consent obtained is to be ‘free’, occurring without coercion, intimidation or manipulation; it must be obtained sufficiently ‘prior’ to the commencement of the project or policy; and it should be given after the group is sufficiently ‘informed’ about all aspects of the project, including potentially adverse effects, through the provision of information in an accessible and culturally appropriate format.

Resources:

ICMM: Good Practice Guide: Indigenous Peoples and Mining

RSPO: Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Oil Palm Plantations: a guide for companies

Oxfam: FPIC Guide

UN-REDD: Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent 

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples