The recent endorsement by the government of Canada of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has given rise to questions about how it will impact resource projects and indigenous groups. Canada’s statement of support represents a policy changes; the government voted against the declaration in 2007 and had maintained a stance of non-support until now. The endorsement seems to imply that any project that impacts indigenous people in Canada is now required to seek free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) – an element contained within several of the Declaration’s articles. But some indigenous groups and government critics point to the non-binding nature of the UNDRIP and worry that without regulatory amendments to back up the policy shift, the FPIC aspects of the UNDRIP will not be required or enforced for Canadian projects. On the other hand, government supporters and some industry stakeholders are concerned that if FPIC does become a requirement as a result of endorsing UNDRIP it will unreasonably increase project costs, because seeking consent could cause delays in project operations and require additional resources to negotiate with indigenous peoples.

How FPIC is interpreted, applied and enforced can alter a project’s financial commitments, construction timeframes or even its existence in the long term. Understanding different interpretations of FPIC in the extractive industry is important for stakeholders. This short analysis summarizes the history of the term and highlights some of the divergent interpretations of where and when FPIC should be sought, by whom, and what it looks like in practical terms.

Read the whole FPIC article.