The phrase ‘free, prior and informed consent,’ and the acronym FPIC, refers to the right of indigenous peoples to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent to proposed measures that will affect them. FPIC has already emerged as a core theme in several of TFD’s prior dialogue streams. Due to a lack of statutory recognition of these peoples’ rights, serious land conflicts have become common.  During more recent TFD dialogues, stakeholders reached a consensus that respect for the right to FPIC is crucial for effectiveness in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Likewise FPIC has emerged as a key principle in providing an effective framework for those Investing in Locally Controlled Forests.

The right to FPIC is affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the jurisprudence of the international human rights treaty bodies. While the right itself is clearly affirmed, the practicalities for non-State parties to adhere to it are less clear. Additionally, given that recognition of the right to FPIC is most vital when statutory law and forest governance is weak, much more guidance is needed on how to respect this right in practice. In recognition of this gap, the forthcoming TFD dialogue stream will aim to develop answers to such practical challenges.