New Haven, CT – Multiple options are being used by companies to ensure effective stakeholder and community engagement and consent in forest landscapes, suggests a new report by The Forests Dialogue (TFD) in collaboration with The Program on Forests (PROFOR) at the World Bank.
The report Towards Consent: Case Studies and Insights on Company-Community Agreements in Forest Landscapes stems from TFD’s ongoing initiative on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a theme that has arisen in multiple dialogue streams on forest issues. While the right to FPIC is upheld by the UN and clearly affirmed by international human rights treaty bodies, the practicalities for companies to adhere to it are less clear in situations where tenure regimes are still evolving and where statutory law and customary rights conflict.
The report explores how companies are developing answers to these practical challenges and offers case-based insights for engaging a diverse set of actors in navigating forest tenure systems and developing long-term collaborative agreements involving forest resources.
“Community consent to companies’ forest operations is crucial to building and retaining the social license to operate and to uphold best practices in sustainable forest management,” said Uta Jungermann, Manager at the Forest Solutions Group at WBCSD, “this report shows how business leadership can generate consent processes and take constructive action to resolve conflicts with communities.”
Lessons are drawn from case studies such as Stora Enso’s pilot eucalyptus plantation and agroforestry project in Laos, where the lack of clear national laws and local governance has complicated the consent process. The case of Mondi’s operations in Kranskop, South Africa examines a consent process taking place amidst evolving statutory recognition of customary rights. APRIL’s handling of disputed land rights in Indonesia through third party mediation and participatory mapping provides insights into managing conflict. And UPM’s tiered negotiations in Uruguay offers an example of one company’s strategy for stakeholder engagement based on different tenure situations.
“When done correctly, community-company partnerships have the potential to bring significant benefits to communities through jobs, markets for their wood, and community resources that might be garnered. Reaching sustained community-company collaboration requires thoughtful engagement, and the case studies from this report provide insights about how achieving FPIC can contribute to such collaboration,” said Diji Chandrasekharan Behr, Senior Natural Resources Specialist, World Bank Group.
A key insight from the report is that there is a trend for benefit sharing arrangements to become increasingly important where communities lack state-recognized rights to forest resources. Such arrangements can provide social license to operate in situations where statutory laws conflict with customary rights. Grievance mechanisms also become increasingly important where the state fails to recognize customary rights and operations have commenced notwithstanding customary claims.
The report also concludes that the more stakeholder engagement occurs before decisions are made and operations commence, the more problems can be addressed before conflict escalates. Additionally, effective engagement in negotiations means ensuring that stakeholders learn about proposed activities well enough in advance to understand potential benefits and impacts in order to make informed decisions about whether and how to proceed.
“These studies help companies find ways of respecting rights and so avoiding conflicts with the communities’ whose lands they seek to develop. By sharing lessons drawn from their experiences, companies can make practical improvements in the way they do business. ” said Marcus Colchester, Senior Policy Advisor at the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP).
The outcomes of collaborative company-community agreements can be significant when communities become an integral part of the development dialogue and in making decisions regarding their future. Effective, equitable dialogue and engagement among all effected parties are key here. “The practicalities for non-state parties to adhere to FPIC are challenging” said Gary Dunning, Executive Director of TFD, “the more closely we look at examples of how companies can incorporate consent into their operations, the closer we get to achieving real collaboration in forest landscapes.”
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Notes for Editors
Gary Dunning – Executive Director, The Forests Dialogue (TFD) Tel: +1 203 432 5966
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. More information about TFD’s FPIC can be found at: http://theforestsdialogue.org/initiatives/FPIC
TFD, The Forests Dialogue, is an autonomous organization hosted by Yale University. Utilizing a multi-stakeholder dialogue process, TFD builds trust among leaders, shared understanding on complex challenges and collaborative solutions on the most urgent global forest issues. http:// theforestsdialogue.org
The Program on Forests (PROFOR) was created in 1997 to support in-depth analysis, innovative processes and knowledge-sharing and dialogue, in the belief that sound forest policy can lead to better outcomes on issues ranging from livelihoods and financing, to illegal logging, biodiversity and climate change. Since 2002, the program has been managed by a core team based at the World Bank, with support from multiple donors. PROFOR encourages a big-picture approach to forest conservation and management in developing countries. http://www.profor.info/