In this new initiative, CCCS CEO Dr. Greg Guldin is offering his decades-long social development experience working with indigenous communities to support International Financial Institutions (IFIs), private firms, and government agencies in their implementation of the new FPIC standard.
While the requirement of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for projects affecting the natural resources, causing relocation, or appropriating cultural heritage has long been a demand of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, only recently has FPIC been elevated to a new global standard. But how to achieve this new standard?
FPIC has been seen as a project-stopper, but our experience demonstrates that FPIC can both be achieved and a project-saver when our lessons learned are followed:
- Embracing the Past: Legacy issues are acknowledged and defused so as to build trust and lessen chances for discontent to emerge later
- Engaging the Present: Transparent, inclusive, and collaborative planning for social development invites local indigenous buy-in
- Assuring the Future: Build FPIC into social development planning so that Indigenous Peoples Plans are co-implemented by indigenous communities–and harmonized with local government plans
- Working with Trusted Local Organizations: Engage an IPO/NGO with credibility which can be accepted by all sides as neutral facilitator
Of course, these pointers are just the outlines of Good FPIC Practice. But they can pay dividends in both the short-run (achieving FPIC) and long-term (maintaining a social license to operate). See below for some other factors to consider when figuring out how best to achieve FPIC.
A project seeking to achieve the free, prior, and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples affected significantly by a project will need to first carry out a few key steps:
- IPO: Selecting the right Indigenous Peoples Organization or NGO to facilitate the FPIC process is a crucial first step
- Representative Selection Process: This needs to be inclusive in terms of gender, generations, economic status, vulnerability, etc.; it needs to be worked out with the IPO/NGO and local people
- Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council: Once the representatives are selected they form an advisory council to make decisions on the entire FPIC process
- FPIC Working Group: To facilitate Advisory Council decisions and to give direct inputs into the project community development planning process, the Council selects some of its members to work directly with the project (and possibly local government representatives)
- Capacity-Building Assessment: Early on, an objective assessment of the partners capacity for IPP/FPIC planning process and response is necessary, with training provided as necessary
- Supplementary Needs Assessment & Priorities/Planning (if SIA insufficient): This step would be necessary if local people feel that the SIA and related documents do not fully represent their concerns and needs
- Consent Process Agreement: discuss with local people how to arrange the consent process
- Three Rounds of Village Consultations:
i.introduce project/FPIC/IPP process; gather community priorities
ii.submit first IPP draft, other document drafts
iii.revised IPP draft and related documents
- Three Rounds of Meetings (after each Round of Consultations): the Advisory Council and the Working Group consolidate community preferences regarding project planning
- Consent Decision
- Spirituality & Culturally Embedded: maintain the values and preferences of local people throughout the FPIC and project planning process
Documenting the FPIC process from beginning to end is critical. And the key documents are produced are a project's ticket to loan approval and to continuing project social health.
First, are the absolutely necessary documents:
- FPIC Process Agreement: This spells out how the stakeholders recognize consent has been achieved, whether by consensus, a vote, or some other means; it's agreed to by the local communities and the project.
- Indigenous Peoples Plan (or comparable community development plan): This Plan contains all the mitigation measures and benefits the project commits to carry out, along with a governance structure.
- Statement of Consent: This statement contains the approval of the local communities for the project and/or its development plan (such as the IPP); it is the end product of the FPIC Process Agreement agreed to early in the FPIC process.
Second, are the highly desirable although not required documents:
- Tripartite Agreement: A statement of partnership to jointly implement the IPP (or similar community development plan) by the project, the local community representatives (e.g., the Advisory Council), and the local government. It spells out each partner's roles and responsibilities.
- Complementary Documents: To reach a positive consent decision, agreements beyond the scope of an IPP might be necessary. It's a good idea to include this type of document within the FPIC set of documents.
While many projects have come to agreements with local indigenous communities, few projects have achieved the more demanding standards of IFC's PS7 or the World Bank's ESS7 with its focus on consent and not just "consultation" or "broad community support."
But Greg and CCCS have, repeatedly, and from the start of the requirement of this new standard:
- In 2010 and 2015, they achieved the first ever FPIConsent (under the new PS7) for a project in the private sector (as recognized by IFC in 2011) for the Sakhalin 2 Oil & Gas Project in Russia
- In 2018, they facilitated the first ever hydropower sector and first ever South Asian FPIC success in the Upper Trishuli-1 Project in Nepal
- Between 2013 and 2016, they carried out an FPIC process for an isolated group of indigenous forest dwellers for the Weda Bay Nickel project on the eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera
Other projects and organizations have also relied on Greg for advice on carrying out successful FPIC projects. The key lessons he has shared with them include:
- Gender issues best tackled by local community if directly raised by facilitators
- Be aware of Class, Caste, and Ethnic Cleavages
- Embrace Legacy Issues: good for short-run (FPIC) & long-run (Social License)
- Key roles of IPO and of Senior Project Management
- Interpret everything through local culture
- Tie in IPP to FPIC: The gift that keeps on giving
- Optional Project Support: If desired by the client, Dr. Guldin acan assist the project with the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Plan and the Consent Statement's stipulations. This can take various forms, depending on client needs. For example, Greg might assist the project with the recruitment and/or training of project staff responsible for Indigenous Peoples safeguards implementation; advise on the development of IPP management systems, undertaking social assessments, and formulating action plans; perform external monitoring of these efforts; and facilitate the drafting of new Indigenous Peoples policy documents.