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When companies and indigenous peoples collide

Some companies often fail to engage meaningfully with indigenous peoples, or worse still, make insufficient effort to establish a mutually beneficial agreement through Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This failure can be detrimental to their cultures and livelihoods. Tim Goodman, Director of Engagement at Hermes Investment Management, explores where companies can fall short and the steps that should be taken to ensure a respectful engagement between all parties using a number of case studies.

“In all corners of the world, indigenous peoples are increasingly being displaced and challenged by major investment and development projects that are encroaching on their lands, territories and resources. Despite good intentions, good laws and progressive human rights instruments, there remains a gap between words and actions.*”

So said Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, the Chair of the United Nations indigenous body UNPFII, as the UN General Assembly marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2017. Indeed, indigenous peoples are facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did 10 years ago. And the implications of such human rights abuses will be far-reaching not just for companies, but investors too.

* “Statement by the Chair of the UNPFII on the 10th Anniversary of the UNDRIP,” published by the UN as at September 2017

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Johnny Weir, Head of Corporate Communications, Federated Hermes Limited
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Jake Rosenberg, Assistant Manager - Corporate Communications