Thursday, May 6, 2010

Talisman reports on consent policy for indigenous peoples

Talisman Energy has released an extensive report exploring the benefits and challenges of implementing a corporate free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) policy for indigenous peoples.

The report, commissioned by Talisman at the request of two responsible investors, Bâtirente and Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des enterprises (RSSE), “concludes that the benefits for oil and gas companies of obtaining community agreement based on FPIC principles are likely to outweigh the disadvantages, despite the challenges involved with securing such consent,” Bâtirente noted in a news release.

“In light of global trends, it would be both timely and wise for Talisman to consider incorporating FPIC principles into its indigenous peoples or community policy,” the report states.

“This report confirms that FPIC principles can, and should, be part of Talisman’s indigenous peoples and local community policy,” says François Meloche, extrafinancial risks manager for Bâtirente.

“We believe this report is a cornerstone that will fuel discussions between extractive industries and indigenous peoples. Let’s hope now that Talisman will confirm its leadership in this area by improving its policies and practices in light of the recommendations of the report,” adds RRSE analyst Philippe Bélanger.

The report does not review the effectiveness of Talisman’s existing policies on indigenous peoples, although it’s been noted by Bâtirente and RSSE that the company is “ahead of the curve in terms of corporate social responsibility and transparency.”

However, the company’s operations are not without controversy. At its annual meeting in Calgary this week, Talisman hosted a delegation of Achuar elders from Peru who are opposed to Talisman's exploration activities in the Amazon River basin, according to the Calgary Herald.

“Mitchell Anderson, a representative from San Francisco-based Amazon Watch, said his group would revive memories of Talisman's involvement in Sudan if it doesn't follow through on an agreement to let the Achuar people determine whether they want drilling on their territory,” the Herald reported.

"Talisman is risking a return to the days of Sudan where their name is going to be scandalized across the international world," Anderson said.

The FPIC report is available for download.

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