"Human well-being and the health of our whole planet depend on whether and how we grow and look after forests. So who gets to decide about who owns and controls the forests and how – the ‘governance of forest tenure’ - is profoundly relevant for us all. This technical guide on improving governance of forest tenure is for those who want to try to improve the governance of forest tenure. It helps you to take action in four critical areas – ‘understanding’, ‘organizing’, ‘engaging’ and ‘ensuring’ – to improve decision-making about forest goods and services. It starts by highlighting some key opportunities and challenges in governance today and directs you to further information, appropriate to how you identify yourself as a stakeholder and what type of opportunity or challenge you are facing. It then lays out a toolkit containing some 86 tools described in summary form and 9 key tools, in some depth. These tools are labelled for their appropriateness in different governance contexts and for the amount of time, money and skills needed to use them. A glossary and extensive Web-linked bibliography are also provided for further inspiration."
USCapital Energy Belize, Ltd must suspend its oil exploration immediately in Toledo, and resume activities only if the Belizean government obtains the free, prior and informed consent of the Maya and Garifuna peoples who live in the area, says an international rights organisation in a new report.
The World Bank is currently undertaking a comprehensive process for ‘Updating and Consolidation’ of eight of its so-called ‘Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies’ and its policy on the use of Country Systems. ‘Safeguard Policies’ are policies intended to establish minimum requirements to minimise or remove the risk of social and environmental harms being directly caused by World Bank financed activities. The Country Systems policy is intended to allow countries to apply their own social and environmental safeguard systems if they are judged to be equivalent to the Bank’s own standards.
To spread the word about this important right of Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Survival has just produced an innovative new radio series available in English and Spanish, ready for broadcast across radio stations worldwide. These programs will be available for download in a variety of Indigenous languages.
The Forests Dialogue's insight:
Have not had a chance to tune into this yet, but it promises to potentially be a great resource to communities. If you have listeded in, let us know what you think.
An independent investigation has shown that First Resources Ltd, a palm oil plantation company and member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), failed to obtain proper consent from local communities before clearing rainforests for...
More Inuit decision-making on the future of uranium mining in Nunavut: this is what Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit, Nunavut’s uranium development watchdog, says it wants to see.
“Inuit are restricted in their ability to inform themselves independently and evaluate the proposal on their own terms, and while there are Inuit on the NIRB [Nunavut Impact Review Board] itself, the decision-making process does not clearly respond to or account for broader Inuit input,” said Makita in its submission to a study on extractive and energy industries in and near indigenous territories by James Anaya, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Boreal Leadership Council (BLC) recognizes that responsible development of natural resources within Canada’s boreal region needs to integrate the principle of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of Aboriginal peoples who inhabit the region. In 2010, as a first step in developing a common understanding of the key issues and promoting a broader dialogue on FPIC in the boreal region, the BLC commissioned The Firelight Group to prepare a report on the current state of FPIC in Canada. The report, Free Prior, and Informed Consent in Canada: Towards practical guidance for developers and Aboriginal communities contains a literature review, case studies, and focus group results that pertain to recent developments in FPIC in Canada. This summary provides a synthesis of the key report findings that are supported by the BLC. Our analysis has identified four foundational needs:
To express multi-stakeholder support, in the form of the BLC, for the concept of free, prior, and informed consent.To advance the idea that a discussion about FPIC can and should occur within fora characterized by mutual respect, expertise, and a desire to move forward practically and respectfully on issues of common concern.To help shape how FPIC can be defined within the Canadian context.To contribute to a discussion among Aboriginal peoples, developers, environmental organizations, financiers, and investors that will lead to practical guidance on the implementation of FPIC.
"On the eve of the latest visit of the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) to Peru (18 -20 February 2013), AIDESEP, the Peruvian national indigenous organisation, has sent a letter to the FIP mission denouncing the efforts of the Peruvian government to backtrack on previous commitments to recognise millions of hectares of untitled indigenous territories as part of their ‘Forest Investment Strategy’."
"Initially, the thought of large-scale mining in Australia saddens me, imagining the inevitable scar it will leave on the landscape. Although I am not an indigenous Australian, I can imagine this sentiment must be much stronger for peoples who believe they do not own the Earth, but rather, they are caretakers of the Earth, their Mother. Considering there can be no stopping the mining boom, however, it is at least heartening to see several mining companies who are leading the way in corporate social responsibility, demonstrated by a range of negotiations with Aboriginal communities to ensure they benefit from mining operations in the long term."
"In July 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the “Court”) came out with its decision in Sarayaku v. Ecuador (“Sarayaku”), finding Ecuador liable for breaching the indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consultation in accordance with international standards. It highlighted that the right to consultation is closely related to indigenous rights to communal property and cultural identity. The Court also found that Ecuador failed to effectively protect the Sarayaku Peoples’ right to life and physical integrity."
"Convention No. 169 is a legally binding international instrument open to ratification, which deals specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. Today, it has been ratified by 20 countries. Once it ratifies the Convention, a country has one year to align legislation, policies and programmes to the Convention before it becomes legally binding. Countries that have ratified the Convention are subject to supervision with regards to its implementation."
"Plantation companies seeking to avoid destroying forests and causing climate change have been advised to set aside forests and peatlands within their concessions. But what are the implications for forest peoples? Do they benefit or does this further curtail their rights?
This field study looks at how Golden Agri Resources (GAR) is piloting this approach in the centre of Indonesian Borneo, in Kapuas Hulu, an upland area famous for its large lakes, extensive forests and peat swamps, and productive inland fisheries.
The findings are startling. Not only are ‘high carbon stock’ set-asides very unpopular but the whole operation is contested. Community lands have been taken without due process, in violation of the RSPO standard. Forest-living Dayaks, losing lands to plantations and set-asides, complain of land scarcity, while Malay fisherfolk accuse the company of river pollution, declining fishstocks and problems breeding fish."
Using geospatial data from 12 emerging market economies (EMEs), this analysis by The Munden Project attempts to guide investors in emerging markets by shedding light on a difficult problem: overlapping land claims that diminish the value and viability of industrial concessions. The report refers to this as “land tenure risk”.
From these datasets and an examination of research and financial information, the report concludes that land tenure risk is a statistically significant source of risk in EME concession investments. This risk extends across all land-dependent sectors, regardless of concession type and, to the extent they are even used, normal proxies for judging this risk are not likely to help. Furthermore, it is difficult to make a case for insurability against this risk.
Consequently, a different approach for addressing the risk needs to be developed. The analysis concludes with specific thoughts on this topic, emphasizing the importance of field-level data collection and contextualization within macro-level assessments, all of which can be done economically and in a way that matches standard due diligence procedures.
Last week the International Council of Metals and Mining (ICMM) released a new mining and indigenous peoples position statement requiring its 22 member companies to integrate Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) into their practices around engagement with indigenous communities. ICMM is an industry association aiming to promote sustainable development in the mining sector. ICMM’s commitment to FPIC is an important step, demonstrating that the mining industry is beginning to recognize that the terms of the debate have shifted. No longer should companies be discussing whether they need to consult communities, but rather whether and how they can ensure community consent. Indigenous peoples’ organizations (along with Oxfam and others) have worked many years to encourage the industry to embrace FPIC, and ICMM’s commitment will be useful to promote accountability among ICMM members and to encourage more companies to follow ICMM’s lead. With its new position statement ICMM requires member companies to begin incorporating FPIC into their practices in over 800 project sites around the world, with commitments coming into full effect by May 2015. ICMM describes FPIC as both a process and an outcome and states: ‘The outcome is that Indigenous Peoples can give or withhold their consent to a project, through a process that strives to be consistent with their traditional decision-making processes while respecting internationally recognized human rights and is based on good faith negotiation.
The Forests Dialogue's insight:
Apparently "ICMM’s statement is also hedged around with ambiguities that could provicde its members with excuses for ignoring Indigenous Peoples if they have the audacity to say 'No'"
The following is an extract from the full report “Making Free Prior & Informed Consent a Reality Indigenous Peoples and the Extractive Sector”, which is embargoed until 2nd May 2013.
The paper, written for a consortium of organisations by Cathal Doyle and Jill Cariño, seeks to contribute towards a discussion between indigenous peoples and mining companies on the issue of indigenous peoples’ Free Prior & Informed Consent (FPIC). In doing this it aims to promote the human rights of indigenous peoples by persuading leading multinational mining companies to abide by their obligations under international human rights standards.
Oil, gas and mining companies are increasingly aware of the need to secure the trust of local communities to gain a ‘social licence 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. Free, prior and informed consent (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 licence 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 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 communitie
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has drawn the attention of the Government of India for repealing Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act of 2006 to end forced evictions of the phumdi dwellers and the abuses being perpetrated by officials of Loktak Development Authority.
In an urgent appeal, AHRC pointed out that since 2010, LDA has forcibly removed and burnt down the phumdi huts of the people from Loktak Lake.
Phumdi dwellers earn their livelihood by fishing and gathering aquatic vegetables from lake.
The Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act of 2006 was implemented without the free, prior, and informed consent of the people whom are directly impacted by the Act.
The Forests Dialogue's insight:
There appears to be some whiplash caused by the lack of FPIC by Indian authorities when passing this act in 2006
Recognizing the critical role of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities to the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of REDD+, the UN-REDD Programme has prioritized stakeholder engagement from its inception. Recognizing that a key component of effective stakeholder engagement is the right to FPIC and responding to calls from stakeholders, countries, partners and donors for further clarification on FPIC in the context of REDD+, the UN-REDD Programme organized a series of regional and international consultations with indigenous peoples, forest-dependent communities, international human rights and safeguards experts and REDD+ practitioners to delve into the complexities, challenges and remaining questions around the application of FPIC for REDD+.
The Guidelines are the result of more than two years of consultation, analysis, pilot-testing, consensus building and refinement around core issues related to FPIC; from its conceptual definition to its practical application.
Controversial Court decision favours miners over indigenous peoples as country sinks to new low on double standards on human rights and development
On 17 January 2013, the Guyanese High Court ruled in favour of a miner who has a mining concession on titled indigenous lands. The ruling states that miners who obtained mining permits prior to the Amerindian Act of 2006 are not bound by its provisions, and consequently do not have to obtain permission from indigenous villages before carrying out operations on village land.
This ruling sets a negative precedent for the indigenous peoples of Guyana, who have been seeking to have their lands recognised and respected for decades. It also exposes the lack of adequate protections for indigenous lands in Guyana, a situation which will only be exacerbated as pressures from mining, logging, and carbon projects grow.
Idle No More is a grassroots movement initiated by First Nations People in Canada that demand Indigenous sovereignty and the protection of land and water. The movement's tactics include the creation of forums to learn more about Indigenous rights such as rallies and teach-ins as well as the building of relationships across Canada. Idle No More is one of many mass uprisings we have seen in the past few years such as The Occupy Movement, The Arab Spring, and The Unify Movement. "Each of these movements share a commitment to non-violent revolution in their call to end the exploitation of people and the exploitation of natural resources. Sustainability can be applied to all aspects of social rights, economics and the environment. Social, economic, cultural, and environmental movements, resistance, civil disobedience, flash mobs and more will continue until this is addressed at home and abroad. Whether it is Anonymous and Wikileaks exposing the corruption of governments, or Indians with drums dancing and chanting in a local mall, people everywhere are awakening, speaking up, and acting for the needed changes. It's time for politicians and religious leaders to get the message everywhere."
"The right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is seen as one of the key principles of international human rights law to protect indigenous peoples from destruction of their lives, cultures and livelihoods. Increasingly it is also seen as a right for local communities to protect themselves from significant impact on the resources and territories for which they can make a justified claim of long and established use. Obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities, before undertaking forestry operations on lands they legally or customarily own and/or use, is therefore an important requirement in the new FSC Principles and Criteria for Forest Management.
The guide provides a detailed methodology aiming to assist all parties involved in FSC certification safeguarding the rights of forest dependent indigenous peoples and local communities in or near FSC-certified operations. This is a first version of guidance on a complex topic. FSC believes that practical implementation of this methodology is necessary to produce valuable results and information to feed into a second version, which is scheduled within 1-2 years from the publication of this version."
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007. This document "represents the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN's member states to move in certain directions." It sets "an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet's 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation."
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