- Has free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of primary stakeholders been obtained for activities affecting lands and other resources traditionally occupied and/or used by those stakeholders? Is there a plan for ongoing engagement with stakeholder groups to ensure FPIC as the program evolves? More information about the applicability of FPIC to Conservancy projects is provided at the end of this appendix.
- If applicable, does the project fully consider the dignity, human rights, traditional knowledge, and cultural heritage and practices of people affected by the project? What actions or considerations account for these aspects? Special consideration should be given to understanding who holds customary and formal rights and access to land and natural resources vital to livelihoods, and socio-cultural and human development. One resource for identifying lands with legal or customary rights and uses claimed by indigenous peoples can be found here. Note that customary rights or legal tenure also apply in many other contexts (e.g., water use [Western US water rights], land use in politically contended areas [e.g. small plot farming in Colombian Andes], recreational access [e.g. use of county easements for river access by minority groups for swimming or fishing]), etc.
- If the project contributes to sustainable economic and human development, is it done in a manner that is socially and culturally appropriate for the primary stakeholders?
- Is full consideration given to how to share or distribute benefits (e.g. recreational access, media attention, market access, representation in decision processes, increased income) from the project equitably, fairly, and transparently?
- How does the project ensure that adverse effects from conservation programs are assessed, prevented and mitigated for affected groups?
- Are all stakeholders being given the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the conservation planning and implementation process? How does the project ensure full and effective participation throughout the project cycle? Has consideration been given to the most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized groups, or those who lack voice and decision-making power who may be affected (positively or negatively) by the project? These groups may include indigenous peoples, communities dependent on the local environment, racial and ethnic minority groups, women, children, and the elderly.
- If applicable, does the project intentionally benefit gender equality, equity, and women’s empowerment?
- Does the project support transparency and accountability of natural resource conservation and good governance by consistently disclosing and sharing information about intervention plans with primary stakeholders in a culturally appropriate manner?
- Does the project comply with applicable local and national laws, international treaties and conventions, and other relevant rules?
- Is there an accountability system that is transparent and accessible for primary stakeholders to share concerns or file complaints about the conservation program? Accountability systems should ensure timely responses to stakeholders, and also monitor the effectiveness of the corrective actions.
- If there is a significant risk of adverse impacts that directly threaten marginalized groups, or that threaten the project (e.g., through reputational, financial, or legal risk), is there a monitoring system in place to track adverse impacts?
Understanding when FPIC (Free, prior and informed consent) is needed
FPIC is the principle that anyone has the right to give or withhold information or knowledge that they possess, and any community or individual has the right to give or withhold consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use.
FPIC has two general applications in conservation work:
1) FPIC is required for any project work that will affect lands or resources owned, managed, occupied or used by others. For example, when you ask permission to enter a privately owned parcel of land in the U.S., that permission is a version of FPIC. We follow the same practices for all types of lands — privately owned, communally owned, or traditionally occupied lands, or other resources affected by our projects.
2) FPIC applies whenever you are collecting information from an individual or group of people. In this case, they have the right to understand what you plan to do with the information, and then with that understanding, decide whether or not they want to answer your questions, and how they wish the information they share to be used. When a reporter asks someone they are interviewing if they are willing to go ‘on the record’, that is a form of securing FPIC. The person being interviewed knows who the reporter works for, can ask any questions about the use of the information they share, and knows that if they speak on the record, anything they say can be used publicly. Choosing to speak ‘off the record’ is a choice the individual can make that limits the way the information they share can be used.
For both applications described above, FPIC is commonly secured via simple verbal consent — please see this guidance on informed consent scripts and elements. It is important to follow this FPIC protocol to ensure transparency, the right of the individual to choose to share or withhold information, the appropriate and expected use of shared information, and to limit legal risk.
Finally, when the intent of gathering information from people is to provide generalizable knowledge, a stricter form of FPIC is required as the Conservancy has an SOP that covers research involving human subjects. Please visit the CONNECT page maintained by the Office of the Chief Scientist for more information and resources about Conservancy staff conducting human subject research.