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A tool for monitoring and verifying Indigenous Peoples Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the context of industrial development

Increasing Indigenous Peoples' capacity to self-determine their own development through Free, Prior and Informed Consent processes.

Photo of Emma Hague
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The Amazon region is set to experience a dramatic increase in industrial development over the next decade and a large proportion of these projects overlap with Indigenous Peoples’ territories. EO’s work has revealed a clear need for Indigenous Peoples to be better equipped to assert their rights and self-determine their own development. One fundamental mechanism for doing this is the right of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Based on dialogue that is carried out in good faith between companies, states, and Indigenous Peoples communities, FPIC seeks to find development outcomes that are equitable for all, and by serving the interests of Indigenous Peoples, FPIC also facilitates an approach to development that is governed by environmental, cultural and spiritual considerations as much as economic ones. Despite inclusion of FPIC within the requirements of many international standards and some national legislative frameworks, however, monitoring project developers’ compliance with FPIC principles remains a key challenge for investors, assurance providers and for affected Indigenous Peoples’ communities. To address this challenge, EO is developing a tool for monitoring compliance of project development with the principles and requirements of FPIC. The tool aims to increase peace and prosperity of indigenous communities in a planet-beneficial way by facilitating the co-design, implementation and ongoing monitoring of FPIC processes. The tool is multi-sided in that it is designed for joint use by project developers, Indigenous Peoples' community representatives and by assurance providers. Given the unique perspective and worldviews of Indigenous Peoples, particularly regarding their connection with territory and resources, we propose that FPIC can only be adequately implemented and monitored if the community has equal ownership over the these processes as the project developer or the government.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

EO is partnered with Coordinator of the Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) to facilitate the ongoing collaboration of Indigenous Peoples’ community representatives in this project. The design phase engaged 45 leaders of the following nations: Achuar, Cofán, Coreguaje, Inga, Kichwa, Murui, Pijao, Secoya, Shipibo-Conibo, Shuar, Siona, Tacana, Urarina, Witoto and Yanacona in a series of workshops that informed the tool’s framework by integrating community perspectives with the requirements of international human rights and voluntary standards. Early engagement of beneficiaries has secured community endorsement for the tool's continued development. Although the tool will only be implemented by designated community representatives, the FPIC processes that it facilitates will benefit entire Indigenous Peoples communities. Moreover, the tool can have far-reaching benefit by increasing opportunities for knowledge-sharing about what makes an FPIC process effective.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Existing guidelines or tools for FPIC are geared towards project developers. Ownership of the process and the data they produce is therefore one-sided. Our tool is unique in that it is designed to be multi-sided for use by all actors in an FPIC process, and facilitates data generation that is objective. The tool is also based on the premise that without a responsible process for achieving FPIC, the credibility of the outcome of that process is compromised. Our framework is unique in that it considers not only the outcome of the process, but also the process used to obtain FPIC, the conditions under which this process is conducted, and whether it adheres to the key principles of Free, Prior, Informed and Consent. Structuring it in terms of these elements enables it to be implemented in a circular way and with multiple entry points, as opposed to a linear ‘tick-box’ system, which has been critiqued for over-simplifying the complex and iterative nature of FPIC processes.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Equitable Origin is a non-for-profit organization that partners with communities, governments and companies to promote equitable, transparent and sustainable development of energy and natural resources.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The founders of EO have worked for over a decade to empower Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon to protect themselves and their lands from destructive development practices. Exploitation of natural resources can benefit communities and preserve local culture, environment and biodiversity if communities have a say in whether and how those resources are developed; a right that is recognized as FPIC. The FPIC tool has the power to safeguard human rights in the face of large-scale development projects.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The Amazon region sits at the nexus of development, conservation and conflict. It is one of the planet’s key areas of biodiversity and rich in natural resources - including high value assets such as gold, petroleum and gas. Peace is therefore influenced by tensions between conservation programs that seek to protect the natural environment, development programs that seek to exploit the region’s natural resources, and Indigenous Peoples’ economic, spiritual and cultural reliance on their traditional land and resources. Prosperity is also impacted by this tension, particularly the degree to which local communities are able to negotiate development outcomes that benefit them as much as the global market that drives natural resource consumption. Lastly, Planet is impacted by the environmental degradation of large-scale development in the Amazon, which, if not negotiated with proper consideration of environmental impacts, disproportionately and negatively affects Indigenous Peoples.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Besides our project partner COICA (see above), EO is currently identifying a project partner with expertise in human-centred design and co-creation, to lead the design and development of the technology required to implement the tool, from the community-level design thinking through to software and prototype development. This process will necessarily involve both Indigenous Peoples’ community representatives and project developers in a collaborative design process. We expect this process to begin with a few weeks of user experience mapping, to better understand the lived realities of the tool’s expected users, followed by an intensive period of design-thinking and ideation facilitated through a series of workshops. From this point we can develop a rough prototype to be taken back to our community of users for testing and further input. Based on this feedback we will develop a plan for refining the tool and achieving full roll-out through cross-sector collaboration.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Many of the Indigenous Peoples’ organizations within the COICA network have experienced first-hand the negative impacts of industrial project development in their territories. Representatives of these communities are proactively requesting access to specialised training that will better equip them to ensure fairer FPIC processes. Also, leaders of these organisations have expressed an urgent need to strengthen their participation in monitoring the conditions under which FPIC processes happen.

Geographic Focus

We focus on the needs of Amazonian Indigenous Peoples but the tool has much broader potential scope.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We have developed a project proposal with a duration of 36 months. The first 12 months of this is centred around an engaged period of user experience mapping, collaborative design and rough prototyping. The following 24 months will test and refine the prototype to the point where it can be rolled out, informed by feedback from the testing stage. During this phase a training programme and materials to ensure that the tool is implemented effectively, will also be developed.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh

Dear Emma keep up the inspirational work that you are doing with your team as you build your innovative tool for monitoring and verifying Indigenous Peoples Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the context of industrial development. As an indigenous leader of the Khasi Tribe living on the Himalayan foothills of north east India, I am very familiar with these issues and I am very happy that you are working hard on increasing Indigenous Peoples' capacity to self-determine their own development through Free, Prior and Informed Consent processes. I have been working on these issues in my homeland with regards to educating our people in addressing the impact of uranium, coal and limestone mining in Meghalaya over the past 20 years.

Right now I am working with Route2 in London to develop an independent credit rating app that will monitor and measure all the impact of business operations made by companies in every country on earth and rank them by their human rights and environmental records using real time data collected my our field agents and vetted members in every country on earth.

Using our enhanced Total Capital Accounting framework, Route2 also offers an advisory service entitled ‘Value2Society’ [V2S] for those companies that what to do good business with the planet and people.

V2S is a novel and potent approach to valuing an organisation’s social, environmental and economic contribution to its host economy; an approach that widens the risk lens and positions companies for long term sustainable development.

V2S describes both a business objective & business model that (via adoption & implementation) will better prepare businesses & governments for 21st century economic & societal realities.

V2S recognises a business’ ‘commercial license to operate’ (i.e. pursuit of profit constrained by market dynamics, regulations & laws) has evolved into a far more complex & demanding ‘societal license to operate’.

This ‘societal license’ requires a business to re-evaluate its purpose & possibly reconfigure operations, in order to evolve a more inclusive and less damaging form of value creation, whilst observing a wider & tighter set of operational constraints.

Our societal licensor now has the tools (e.g. real-time, ground sourced, data feeds etc.) & the voice (e.g. social media etc.) to: (a) illuminate the business practices that routinely fail their host economies, host societies & price-focussed customers; & (b) pressurise responsible business entities into public acknowledgement and gradual alignment to the core principles of a ‘societal license’.

This ‘bottom-up’ societal pressure in concert with growing ‘top-down’ ’responsible investment’ mandates is distilling a global and sustained demand on businesses to coherently, comprehensively, comparably & consistently measure, manage & communicate the wider impacts, negative & positive, of all activities throughout the value chain.

Through implementation, V2S provides the structure & function to assist business effectively meet these evolving stakeholder demands & further encourages the design of business strategy that manifests greater organisational resilience.

I just want to congratulate you and your team at EO for helping the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazing Region which an amazing place where I have worked in the past. It is good to know that you have conducted three workshops in Colombia (Mocoa,) Peru (Iquitos) and Ecuador (Lago Agrio) to discuss and explore FPIC with leaders of over 20 Indigenous Peoples associations and federation to ensure that the content of the framework is meaningful and relevant at the community level.

Photo of Emma Hague

Sounds great Bremley Lyngdoh , and thank you for your support. Can I ask if and how V2S ensures company compliance with FPIC requirements and how this is considered within the Accounting framework?

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh

Hi Emma V2S in itself is not a standard and therefore will not ensure compliance, however it will assist. Route2’s total capital accounting framework provides for the external societal cost of an event to be captured as part of an organisation’s Social Capital value and as part of the wider consideration / calculation of an organisation’s total economic contribution.

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