Liberia: EPA, FDA Want to Harmonize Free Prior Informed Consent Processes

... Conduct training on guidelines for community consultation

The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) in collaboration with the Forestry Development Agency (FDA) on Monday, November 18, 2019 began a two-day socialization workshop in Ganta, Nimba County on the National Guidelines for Community Consultation on Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

The workshop is being organized in collaboration with the REDD+ Implementation Unit of the FDA to socialize the newly developed National Guidelines on Community Consultations involving forests to comply with Section 2.2 (e) of the Community Rights Law (CRL) of 2009.

The workshop, according to a release, also seeks to socialize the Community Consultation Guidelines by reviewing different existing FPIC processes being used by different actors and harmonize them to adopt a single nationally developed Guideline.

It is also intended to raise awareness among actors for the use of Liberia's FPIC Guideline for consultations and engagements with forest dependent communities.

FDA Board Chairperson, Harrison S. Karnwea, said the gathering is necessary to bring Liberia on par with the rest of the World.

Karnwea said Liberia is now catching up with other countries, and noted that Liberia's Open Door Policy attracted concession companies that never subscribed to FPIC.

He said that granting of land in the past for concessions were done by government without the involvement of local communities.

He appreciated the introduction of FPIC process, and called on Liberians to take the practice very serious, because it is good for Liberia's development.

The FPIC process, he said would guide Liberia's natural resource management process.

EPA Assistant Manager for Policy, Jefferson Dahn, said that the workshop would increase awareness on the use of FPIC, as well help harmonized fragmented FPIC processes, and community engagement programs.

EPA Manager for Planning and Policy, Z. Elijah Whapoe, said that the FPIC Guidelines would enable Liberians understand their rights, and responsibilities in the awarding of concessions.

Whapoe added that the process will ensure a more consent engagement, especially in the acquisition of community land and help reduce potential conflict risks.

FDA Environmental Lawyer, Attorney Yanquoi Dolo, told the gathering that FPIC process is being hugely backed by international and regional instruments, including the 2009 ECOWAS Directive on the Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies in the mining sector, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the Pan African Parliament Recommendations and Resolutions.

Dolo said that the international documents that support FPIC are the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011).

He added that these instruments further enhance the Free Prior Informed Consent Guidelines.

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