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The spirit of FPIC: lessons from government-community-relations in Canada and the Philippines (PLA 65)

Abbi Buxton

Journal article

The ‘spirit of FPIC’ is to enable communities to have power over decision-making, so that decisions reflect their knowledge,values, practices and norms. But how can this be put into practice? Commercial companies often look to governments and national legislation to provide guidance and help. The nature of the relationship between government and local indigenous groups and local communities then becomes crucial. The case studies in this paper look at this relationship in the context of large-scale
mining projects, reflecting on how decision-making structures and processes can be designed to enable real community participation and influence and thereby reflect the ‘spirit of FPIC’. The Philippines case shows clearly that a legal right to FPIC is not sufficient and can in fact have negative impacts where the government feels the need to engineer consent in order to comply with the law. By contrast, the creation of new bodies for participation in Canada has seen a process of empowerment of civil society and local indigenous groups. To implement the ‘spirit of FPIC’, institutions need to be flexible and recognise the importance of bottom-up design of the structures, processes and values for achieving FPIC.

This article appears in Participatory Learning and Action 65 on Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent.

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