Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of Aboriginal Peoples before undertaking forestry operations on lands that Aboriginal Peoples rely upon is an important requirement in FSC’s Principles and Criteria for Forest Management.

FSC is committed to incorporating free, prior and informed consent into certification requirements with the goal of increasing meaningful and tangible benefits to Aboriginal peoples and the forest sector as a whole.

Hear about FSC & free, prior and informed consent and what it offers to Aboriginal Peoples

What is free, prior and informed consent?

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) can be characterized in three distinct but related ways: 1) a right, 2) a principle and 3) and process.

FPIC as a Right: The right to FPIC can be simply stated as “the right of indigenous peoples to make free and informed choices about the development of their lands and resources” (Ward 2011: 54). This right is recognized in international human rights law and other international instruments (e.g. United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)).

FPIC as a Principle: FPIC protects the right of Indigenous Peoples to negotiate and make decisions regarding development activities that affect Indigenous communities. It does so by ensuring that Indigenous Peoples are free to make their decisions and not coerced or intimidated prior to the start of development activities, and that these decisions are based on full information about the scope and impacts of the proposed development. The principle of FPIC ultimately ensures that Indigenous Peoples have a choice to give or withhold consent and that that choice is respected.

FPIC as a Process: An FPIC process ensures the implementation of the FPIC principle in order to protect the right of Indigenous Peoples to make decisions on their traditional/ancestral lands that may be affected by development. In the context of FSC and forest management in Canada, an FPIC process may be defined as a mutually agreed and culturally appropriate engagement activity based on the recognition of the right to FPIC and where the final objective of the engagement activity is to obtain consent for specific forest management activities.

How will FSC incorporate FPIC into its forest management standards?

FSC Canada is working to improve and strengthen forest certification requirements with the primary goal of increasing meaningful and tangible benefits of certification for Aboriginal Peoples and the forest sector as a whole in Canada.

To do this, FSC Canada is working towards effectively adapting the principles of FPIC and strengthening forest certification requirements in the new National Forest Management Standard.

Concurrent to the release of the National Forest Management Standard, FSC Canada will also release an FPIC Guidance document to assist certificate holders, Indigenous communities and stakeholders in understanding the application of FPIC.

Both the National Forest Management Standard and the FPIC Guidance document are scheduled to be finalized in 2019.

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