Government representatives, community leaders and members from the different sites selected for the BRANTV Project have successfully completed training on the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process. The training took place in Port Vila on Tuesday 6 August and in Luganville town on Friday 9 August 2019. The training brought together  participants from  different government sectors from the national, provincial governments and rural communities throughout Vanuatu.

The aim was to inform stakeholders, project partners and members of host communities to project sites of their rights, roles and responsibilities in a project development. This is to ensure all safeguards requirements under the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) Social and Environmental Standards (SES) and relevant national laws are adhered towards a sustainable development of any project including BRANTV Project in Vanuatu.

As part of the BRANTV Project’s Safeguards requirements, it is the responsibility of the Project to train its stakeholders about FPIC and how this can help communities have a say about how project activities during construction and implementation phases may impact their land, livelihood and environment. The methodology used included theory presentations, exercises, group activities and evaluations.

A community representative from one of the Solar PV system sites in Malo in Sanma Province expressed his appreciation after the training saying it  had provided him with a new knowledge on what his rights are in a project development. He also stressed that it is a first training he came across where  a project actually assisted him with the right direction to seek advises and how to work alongside the  project developer during the implementation phase to ease potential environmental and social risks. Another participant from the government sector said he now understands how to conduct a proper consultation with affected communities as he now also know their rights as indigenous people. He said that knowing what FPIC stands for really helped him strengthen his capacity in working with the different communities they are working with.

The Director of Energy Mr Antony Garae expressed his words of acknowledgment during his opening remarks, saying this is a first training of its kind which he strongly believes will help all parties involved to understand their roles towards the current BRANTV project implementation and any future community project implementation to achieve a successful and sustainable outcome.  

FPIC process is  derived from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Article 32 (2) which states that project developers shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the IP concerns seeking their consent and approval prior to any development. The FPIC process assists projects such as the BRANTV Project in Vanuatu to abide by the Social and Environmental Standards (SES) of the UNDP to meeting standard 6 of SES on Indigenous peoples safeguards and principles.  

FPIC is about indigenous communities having a specific right that others should respect. It is a collective right which means communities as a whole, has the right to give or deny their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).