FPIC and the extractive industries: a guide to applying the spirit of free, prior and informed consent in industrial projects
Abbi Buxton and Emma Wilson
IIED, March 2013 | ISBN 978-1-84369-909-5

This report seeks to articulate the relevance of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to company policy and practice, while also providing a balanced consideration of the relative responsibilities of government and civil society. Oil, gas and mining companies are increasingly aware of the need to secure the trust of local communities to gain a ‘social license to operate’. Implementing a project without it can lead to operational delays, financial costs and litigation, or even project closure, violence and loss of life. FPIC is an indigenous peoples’ right, established in international conventions, requiring companies to engage with local communities to agree together on how projects are implemented; it is also a crucial part of gaining the social license to operate. There is a growing set of FPIC regulations to comply with, and responsible companies are increasingly aware that they need to have policies relating to FPIC. This paper offers guidance to those companies who are looking to engage with FPIC in a meaningful way. It focuses less on the letter of the law, which may differ in different jurisdictions, and more on exploring ‘the spirit of FPIC’, a deeper commitment to engage with local communities to reach shared agreement, allowing people to have a meaningful voice in deliberative decision-making processes related to their own development. The authors offer a three-level framework of transferable principles to implement the ‘spirit of FPIC’, as well as references to the plentiful step-by-step guidance that exists on implementing FPIC. The framework is intended to challenge companies to move beyond a culture driven by minimal compliance-based thinking, towards one based on a greater understanding of the importance of stakeholder engagement practices; an understanding which should benefit business as well as communities. It involves: complying with requirements for FPIC under international and national law, company policy and obligations to third parties, such as project lenders; implementing the ‘spirit of FPIC’ throughout the project life-cycle, by employing timely, transparent, deliberative processes to reach mutual agreement on future developments, whether or not this is required by third parties; and applying the ‘spirit of FPIC’ not only to indigenous communities, but to all significantly affected local communities, in line with emerging good practice guidance. Download the report [pdf] …