Major projects, whether they be in mining, energy or agriculture, have major social and economic impacts. They typically involve limiting access to land and other natural resources. Impacts to the landscape are often significant in the project’s lifetime and sometimes permanent.
It is important that companies and communities share information and enter into dialogue to ensure that communities know in advance about how they could be affected, that their concerns can be included in project planning by companies, and that opportunities created for social and economic development align with community aspirations. Communities and companies should agree on how to manage social and environmental impacts, the compensation that should be provided to communities for negative impacts, and how the project can provide benefits to the community.
For Indigenous communities, Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is the process that brings this together and results in a decision by the community to give or withhold its consent for the project.
Major projects are complicated. They go through multiple phases, often with staffing changes, and communities change too. The purpose of this guide is to help communities and companies arrive at a shared roadmap for FPIC decisions about whether to agree to a project and – if so – whether to agree to project changes later. The guide seeks to provide a common structure that can be useful from the perspective of both communities and companies, and help them to organize dialogue in a way that can be practically beneficial throughout the site exploration, development, operations, expansion, and closure processes.
The guide was developed by RESOLVE to capture insights from an ongoing initiative, established in 2012, bringing civil society, Indigenous representatives, and business together to look at practical ways communities and companies can work together during FPIC processes. The FPIC Solutions Dialogue is a collaboration between NGOs, community representatives, and companies with FPIC commitments working together to develop practical guidance to support rights-based decision-making. Through the years, members have shared experiences, challenges, and advice with one another, resulting in several shared insights that have supported members in their own implementation of FPIC principles.
This guide is an effort to share those collective insights more broadly. We observe that even when companies are engaging in good faith, disagreements and communication breakdowns can occur. This could stem from a lack of shared understanding and/or a lack of effective communication about the needs, capacities, knowledge, and expectations of all involved. This guide seeks to help companies and communities recognize where such gaps may be present, and offer insights, prompts, and resources to inform a constructive FPIC process suited to the unique needs of the rights-holders and stakeholders involved.
The Guide is organized by decision making milestones to help users recognize the key FPIC considerations associated with each stage in a project lifecycle. Within each milestone, a “for communities” section outlines key considerations, perspectives, and approaches that may be helpful to communities. The “for companies” section highlights similar guidance for companies. We note that these milestones reflect the typical development cycle of extractive projects; while the principles of FPIC remain the same regardless of sector, the specific stages and types of relevant information may be different for other kinds of projects.
Many issues and principles – including agreement-making, gender and inclusivity considerations, and more – also cut across these stages. These issues are included throughout the guide and can also be accessed in aggregate in the “Resources” section.
This guide is offered in a humble spirit. We acknowledge that our own understanding of the nuances of FPIC implementation is incomplete and continues to evolve. We also acknowledge that there are a number of important topics that are missing – particularly the role of government, but also grievance mechanisms, baseline studies and impact assessments, FPIC in ownership transfers and care and maintenance, and many more. We expect to maintain, update, and add to this guide as we continue to learn and grow through shared experiences and ongoing dialogue.
The Practice of FPIC: Insights from the FPIC Solutions Dialogue, 2021. Kennedy, T., Martin, T., Lee, M., RESOLVE.