How to explain carbon finance using FPIC

When I attended the first day of the CCAFS’ Communicating Carbon Finance Workshop, I did not know about FPIC. So when I heard that by the last day, participants hope to collate a policy brief that would demonstrate how to successfully communicate carbon finance to rural farmers through the application of FPIC principles, I was left wondering what it was all about. I later found out that FPIC principles require indigenous land users to be given information about any proposed initiatives and likely impacts, through meaningful, free and voluntary participation while also making sure indigenous institutions are well represented in any negotiations.

We were told that for farmers and private investors to enter into an agreement, farmers must be justly compensated for their efforts. I discovered that FPIC exists to help bring about fairness to the whole negotiation process. The F in FPIC stands for free participation in the negotiation without coercion or manipulation, P stands for the importance of entering in negotiations and finalising negotiations prior to the commencement of carbon projects, I is for making absolutely sure that farmers are informed about the full range of issues and they understand potential impacts. Lastly the C stands for either a clear granting of consent by farmers to the project leaders and investors or a clear withholding of consent which must be respected by all stakeholders.

There were a good number of representatives at the workshop ranging from carbon project implementation staff, economists, communication specialists and social scientists. The major goal of the workshop was to develop effective methods for communicating to farmers the various components of the carbon market especially its financial aspects.

The workshop started in great spirit as Patti Kristjanson from CCAFS explained several reasons why the workshop was needed. Participants then heard from ICRAF’s GRP6 social scientist, Delia Catacutan on FPIC. She said “FPIC is important to carbon finance because it is a rights-based approach to decision making” A rights-based approach is important because “Carbon is linked to rights on the land, property and trees. Carbon has become a rights issue so it is important that FPIC is an integral part of any carbon projects to ensure the success of those projects”.

In discussing the nature of FPIC, Delia responded “FPIC is a principle, practise, a decision-making process and a tool simultaneously”. She continued “It does not have to be institutionalised even though in some countries like the Philippines, it is already a process because it is part of a bigger law and concerns very large projects”. Since many Carbon projects typically involve an investor and a small group of farmers, Delia said that an institutionalised FPIC process was not necessary as long as investors followed the FPIC principles in their negotiations.'

Christopher Mesiku

Chris Mesiku is a science communicator volunteering at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. In the last 5 years, he has worked as a communicator for various scientific institutions. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Graduate Diploma in Science Communication (ANU) and a Masters in Philosophy of Science (UQ).

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