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FAO moving in the right direction with Free, Prior and Informed Consent

20/06/2017 - 

This week FAO launched a capacity development program to train its staff on the application of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), that is, the right of indigenous peoples to be consulted in order to give or withhold their consent to any development intervention that takes place in their territories. 

Having started in Bangladesh and Nepal, throughout 2017 FAO will capacitate its staff at country, regional and headquarters levels.

Counting 370 million or more than 5% of the world’s population, indigenous peoples constitute 15% of the total poor and many of the world’s 800 million food insecure people. Their vulnerability often derives from the absence of FPIC, with interventions being carried out in their territories without their participation, consultation and consent – be it from States, private companies or development agencies. 

The United Nations has made FPIC a priority in its recent System Wide Action Plan on Indigenous Peoples (UNSWAP), encouraging UN agencies to apply this principle in their work.

FPIC is also recognized in the ILO Convention 169 and enshrined in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As such, FAO integrated FPIC in its 2010 Policy of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples operationalizing it in its project cycle through the Organization’s Environmental and Social Management Guidelines (ESSM). Such guidelines aim at mitigating any potential negative environmental or social impacts that could result from the implementation of projects’ interventions. 

In order to support the process, in October 2016 FAO launched a manual designed specifically for field practitioners on the application on FPIC. More recently, a didactic animation video has been released as a part of the trainings.  

“FAO is making all due efforts to integrate FPIC in the work of the Organization. In fact, FPIC should be regarded not only as a right of indigenous peoples but also as a best practice with local communities since obtaining the beneficiaries’ consent to proposed project activities enhances ownership, increases positive impact and improves the overall sustainability of the actions”, said FAO’s Deputy Director General operations, Dan Gustafson. 

So far, the trainings have proven to be a success: “A combination of theory, practical sessions and case studies made the 2-day training interesting and easy to follow. The training is not only beneficial for those working with indigenous peoples but for all FAO projects in general”, commented Femke Postma after attending the training at the FAO office in Bangladesh. 

Through this capacity development, FAO takes a further step to foster a positive engagement with indigenous peoples and local communities, ensuring that the Organization´s interventions are carried out for the benefit of the people and with their full participation and consent. 

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