Indigenous rights, indigenous wrongs: risks for the resource sectors

Indigenous rights, indigenous wrongs: risks for the resource sectors

The complex relationship between corporations and indigenous peoples

This paper identifies the risks and opportunities faced by companies with regards to managing indigenous rights issues. It also looks at how companies can act on these opportunitites in the short and medium term.

 Additionally, the paper examines the policies and strategies relating to indigenous peoples adopted by seven companies operating in a range of sectors identified as high risk. It assesses their management response against EIRIS indicators to determine the extent to which these risks are being mitigated. The paper also includes good practice examples.

Key findings include:

  • while there is evidence of some companies addressing indigenous rights issues, none of the companies researched are doing enough
  • most companies examined have a basic public commitment to indigenous rights (6 out of 7) and a commitment to meaningful consultation (6 out of 7)
  • of the high risk sectors analysed extractive industries such as oil and gas and mining are most likely to demonstrate a response; sectors such as forestry and agriculture lag behind in their response
  • few companies (3 out of 7) publicly commitment to the principles of free prior informed consent for all projects (as opposed to consultation) or are effectively managing the engagement and consent process
  • the quality of reporting is generally poor, with most companies providing a response to any allegations of breaches of indigenous rights but few report voluntarily on areas of non-compliance.