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FPIC and the extractive industries: a guide to applying the spirit of free, prior and informed consent in industrial projects

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 communities.

This publication forms part of IIED’s work to identify pathways towards inclusive and responsible mining.

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Buxton, A., Wilson, E. (2013). FPIC and the extractive industries: a guide to applying the spirit of free, prior and informed consent in industrial projects. IIED, London.

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Shaping Sustainable Markets is a research initiative that explores how the formal and informal rules used to govern markets – called market governance mechanisms (MGMs) – are designed, and how they impact on people, the planet and the economy.

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Shaping Sustainable markets