From a reactive to a proactive approach: Integrated impact assessment for Indigenous communities

Thursday, 7 June 2018
Damien Parriman
Frank Weisenberger
David Hinchley

Large-scale natural resource development projects profoundly transform environments, communities, cultures and economies, and often generate social conflict. Impact Assessments play a critical role in limiting impacts from development projects to both the environment and the communities, but often have limited consideration of social and cultural values. Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), as recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, requires that consent is sought in advance of any authorisation or commencement of development proposals. However, Indigenous communities are commonly faced with the need to react to development proposals, and in most cases do not have the adequate time, resources and capacity to assess development impacts on natural, cultural and social community values. Overcoming the separation of environmental and social impact assessment, we outline a model that incorporates biodiversity and cultural/social values into a development planning process, using the Nyikina Mangala Native Title Determination area in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and discuss challenges to the process and applicability to other regions.