The Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is the right for Indigenous Peoples to explicitly express their consent to development projects and researches taking place with their communities, lands and natural resources.
FPIC is a specific right for Indigenous Peoples, recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It is an important collective right .
It works as an “operational model principle empowering local communities to give or withhold their consent to proposed investment and development programmes that may affect their rights, access to lands, territories and resources, and livelihoods. FPIC is solicited through consultations in good faith with the representative institutions endorsed by communities. It ensures that they participate in decisionmaking processes concerning a given development project”.
As argued in the IFAD document entitled Seeking free, prior and informed consent in IFAD investment projects(Sept 2015) and in the Report of the International Workshop on Methodologies regarding FPIC and Indigenous Peoples (2005):
Free implies no coercion, intimidation or manipulation.
Prior implies that consent has been sought sufficiently in advance of any decision point or commencement of activities and respect is shown to time requirements of indigenous consultation/consensus processes.
Informed implies that information provided covers (at least) the following aspects:
- The nature, size, pace, duration, reversibility and scope of the proposed project/activity
- The rationale or purpose of the project/activity
- The geographical areas that will be affected
- A preliminary assessment of the likely economic, social, cultural and environmental impact, including potential risks and fair and equitable benefit-sharing
- Personnel likely to be involved in the execution of the proposed project/activity
- Procedures that the project or activity may entail.
Consent is the expected outcome of the consultation, participation and collective decision-making process by the local communities. It is the mutual agreement reached, documented and recognized by all parties. Consultation and participation are crucial components of a consent process and require time and an effective system for communicating among interest holders. Consultation should be undertaken in good faith, and local communities must be able to participate through their own freely chosen representatives and customary or other institutions. In general, communities would first consent to discuss the idea of the project that will affect their land, territories and resources. They would further participate in the consultation process leading to consent by contributing to the design of the project, including its implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
The Indigenous Partnership strongly incentivizes the utilization of FPIC as an essential tool in all his activities with indigenous communities.