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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 6: People and Processes
ties are engaged before the decision is taken and that proponents
stand ready to respond to community inputs by adjusting project
design. Negotiating with communities aims to “reach agreement
on a specifc issue or set of issues” (IFC, 2007). Negotiating with
communities may deliver a “single, comprehensive agreement
that addresses all key issues, including the identifcation of
environmental and social impacts, the proponent’s commitment to
mitigate those impacts, and additional community benefts, such
as employment” (WRI, 2009), or agreements on specifc issues
of interest. Negotiations can lead to “free, prior and informed
consent” (see below) if entire communities are involved.
IFC (2007) suggests that “small projects with minimal impacts
on the surrounding population may only need to focus on the
information disclosure and communication side of the engage-
ment spectrum, whereas larger projects with greater degrees of
complexity and wide-ranging impacts on multiple stakeholder
groups will need to adopt a more strategic and sophisticated
approach in order to effectively manage the process.” Negotiation
is recommended in projects where a) proponents seek rights to
land and other resources, and b) stakeholder concerns present a
signifcant risk to project operations or the proponent’s reputation.
PROJECT CYCLE
Engagement throughout the project cycle – from pre-feasibility,
to feasibility, construction, operation and decommissioning - can
create stronger relationships with communities. It is important
to engage with communities at the earliest possible time—the
pre-feasibility stage—as some important project parameters (e.g.
site selection) are settled at that stage. During the feasibility stage
project proponents should engage communities in conducting
an “environmental and social impact assessment” and defning
an “environmental and social management plan.” During the
construction phase impacts become visible, and as construction
usually proceeds along tight deadlines, a strong relationship with
communities can prevent delays. During operation, a monitoring
system should allow communities to verify adherence to the
“environmental and social management plan.” At the decommis-
sioning stage (if needed), communities may face loss of employ-
ment and social benefts as well as environmental and health
risks related to disposal of materials. A decommissioning plan
developed earlier in the project cycle should be updated to refect
new realities, including new stakeholders.
INCLUDE TRADITIONALLY EXCLUDED
STAKEHOLDERS
Projects can infuence the balance of power in a community.
Local elites may exert undue infuence. Groups excluded from a
community engagement process are often those that are already
and traditionally marginalized within the community. Community
engagement can only mitigate risks effectively to the extent that it
can identify and address the concerns of different interest groups.
To identify different and in particular marginalized groups within a
community, project proponents should engage in a social assess-
ment process, and tease out different characteristics by gender,
ethnicity, religion or other characteristics and associated interests.
To promote engagement with marginalized groups, WRI (2009)
proposes to:
• Assess local institutions and political dynamics in each
potentially impacted community to identify groups that do not
have a strong voice in political decisions.
• Use participatory mapping to identify how different groups
rely on community resources.
• Conduct separate meetings with different groups to create a
setting where marginalized persons are comfortable speaking
about the project.
• Disaggregate environmental and social data to a level that
refects the status of different interest groups, so that the
proponent can measure impacts across different groups.
Marginalized groups will be those most in need of independent
technical advice and support to allow them to assess risks and
mitigation approaches appropriate to their needs and opportuni-
ties. Participatory mapping is a useful tool to identify stakeholders
outside the immediate vicinity of the project and identify how
communities’ culture, health and livelihoods depend upon land
and resources affected by project or programme development. An
“ecosystem services review” can highlight how stakeholders in the
vicinity of a project or further afeld depend upon ecosystems that
may be affected by the project (WRI, 2008).
GAIN FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT
“Free, prior and informed consent [FPIC] is a collective expression
of support for a proposed project by potentially affected commu-
nities that is reached through an independent and self-determined
decision-making process undertaken with suffcient time, and in
accordance with their cultural traditions, customs and practices.
Such consent does not necessarily require support from every
individual (WRI, 2009).” Consent must be “free of coercion,
obtained prior to commencement of the project activities, and
informed through access to all the information necessary to make
the decision, including knowledge of legal rights and the implica-
tions of the project.” Legal requirements in domestic and interna-
tional law for FPIC are usually limited to indigenous people. Some
international fnancing institutions and the Equator Principles
adopted by some of the leading commercial lending institutions,
demand only “free, prior and informed consultation” with affected
communities. FPIC is particularly challenging in cases where there
are overlapping rights to the same land and resources.
FPIC is most appropriate when the project proponent suggests
that a community relinquish a collective legal right, such as land
ownership. To achieve FPIC community consultations during the
feasibility phase must allow adequate time for communities to
deliberate. The outcome may be an impact beneft agreement
(Box 3). The unanimous support of—or consensus among—all
individuals, is not necessary to obtain FPIC. Adherence to FPIC
may be demonstrated if all community members agree on the
community’s chosen process for reaching agreement.
Negotiate
Two Way: Joint decision
making on issues that
impact a community.
One Way: Proponent
informs community after
decision is taken.
Improved community
understanding of the
project.
Two Way: Proponent
seeks input before a
decision is taken.
Proponent records input
and demonstrates to
community how input is
incorporated into decision.
Negotiate agreement and/
or free, prior and informed
consent.
Consult
Inform
PROCESS
OUTCOME
Figure 3: The spectrum of community engagement
approaches