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Free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC)

It's time to have a look at the definitions.

The first three words are all modifiers, individually, of “consent.”

Free: Consent, freely given. Not coerced or manipulated. Too often around the world, Indigenous peoples are "co-opted" by governments or businesses to become "partners" in a project to ensure their consent. They are promised part ownership and/or part revenue. But since business and governments have been holding back Indigenous Peoples in poverty for years, this promise amounts to a bribe and thus not truly free consent. Free consent also cannot be the result of constant prodding, intimidation or boiler-room tactics; it must be very nearly initiated on request.

Prior consent means consent before any project is initiated. This means full consent, not just getting to “yes.” In normal municipal zoning hearings, there is a vastly different level of meaning between a “yes” for a proposed project and a “no.” “Yes” is always final; “no” always means “maybe later,” never an absolute ”not ever.”

However, for environmental projects involving Indigenous Peoples, there must always be a possibility of “no,” as in ‘this is the end of this project’, after a period of time when the peoples see the actual extent of the damage being done to their home lands, or the pathetic dribble of funds coming in. Especially if they have been co-opted with the lure of cash now which alleviates poverty and after a while see the long-term damage being done by this neo-colonialism.

Informed consent should include reading a number of past issues of REDD-Monitor to show them the extent of this charade, the meaninglessness of offsets and the world-wide extent of this manipulative marketing scheme.

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