How does "Free, Prior and Informed Consent" (FPIC) impact social equity? Lessons from mining and forestry and their implications for REDD+

Authors Mahanty, S.; McDermott, C.L.
Year of Publication 2013
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Land Use Policy
Volume 35
Pagination 406-416
Open Access No


The principle of "Free, Prior and Informed Consent" (FPIC) is promoted through international agreements and safeguards in order to strengthen social equity in resource management by requiring consent from indigenous and/or local communities prior to actions that affect their land and resource rights. Based on early experiences with implementing FPIC standards in mining and forestry, we examine how FPIC has impacted social equity and why. In both sectors FPIC was first operationalized through non-governmental standards that revealed ambiguities surrounding its definition and implementation. In mining, FPIC was first codified in the standards of financial investors, while in forestry FPIC emerged within competing market-based certification schemes, resulting in contrasting definitions. In both sectors, contextual factors such as government laws and policies, the socio-political environment and the overall distribution of rights and resources strongly shape the impacts of FPIC on equity particularly for actors without strong legal rights. These findings are significant for emerging arenas such as REDD+, where there is much debate around the role of governments, financial institutions and market-based actors in applying FPIC for social equity outcomes.