Improving the effectiveness of impact assessment pertaining to Indigenous peoples in the Brazilian environmental licensing procedure

  • Hanna P
  • Vanclay F
  • Langdon E
 et al. 
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The number of environmental licence applications for projects affecting Indigenous peoples in Brazil has increased since the implementation of a major infrastructure program (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento) in 2007. This increase has caused problems for Brazilian agencies involved in environmental licensing procedures (IBAMA, FUNAI and others). We analyze the Brazilian environmental licensing procedure for situations involving Indigenous peoples, Maroons (Quilombolas) or other traditional communities in order to identify potential improvements for Brazil and potentially other countries. Although Brazilian procedures are consistent with international best practice in environmental licensing, in practice social impacts are inadequately addressed, mitigation measures are poorly implemented, and there is a lack of enforcement and compliance. The paper is based on document analysis and interviews with key actors in governmental and non-governmental organizations and Indigenous leaders. We suggest that Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes need to be conducted at the earliest stages of project planning, and that Indigenous peoples should actively participate in impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation processes. In order to achieve a social licence to operate, there needs to be full recognition of traditional knowledge and acceptance of Indigenous values and concepts. We also recommend increased involvement of social experts and mediators as well as improved accountability, enforcement and grievance mechanisms in the licensing process. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Ethnogenesis
  • Indigenous Component Study
  • Self-determination
  • Social impact assessment
  • Territoriality

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