Appendix V

TNC’s Ethics & Compliance Process

In this Appendix:
Get contact information for the TNC Ethics and Compliance office
Know how to file a complaint
Understand what happens after a complaint is filed

Contacts for TNCs Ethics and Compliance Office

Helpline Web Portal:
nature.org/tnchelpline

Helpline:
Phone: (800) 461-9330 (US)
Text: 571-458-1739 (US)
See Helpline webpage for international numbers

Mailing Address:
4245 N. Fairfax Drive
Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203

TNC’s Ethics & Compliance Process is established to receive and resolve concerns related to TNC’s alleged or perceived violations of:

  • TNC’s Code of Conduct;
  • TNC’s Policies and Procedures, including the Principles and Safeguards in this Guide;
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • Conservation Initiative on Human Rights’ Guiding Principles; or
  • An IPLC Consent Agreement.

 
TNC staff should be reminded that each employee is individually accountable for compliance with TNC’s Code of Conduct and Policies and Procedures.

Anti-Retaliation

TNC prohibits any form of retaliation, including harassment, intimidation, adverse employment actions, or any other form of retaliation, against employees who in good faith raise suspected violations of law, cooperate in inquiries or investigations, or identify violations of TNC’s Code of Conduct. Any employee who engages in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Who May File a Complaint

Any community, organization or individual can file a complaint as an affected party. An individual or entity who has been authorized by an affected party may file a complaint on behalf of the affected party as a representative. Complaints may be filed anonymously and will be treated confidentially to the extent possible and disclosed to those with a need to know.

Filing a Complaint

An affected party or representative can use the TNC Helpline to file a complaint in their preferred language. The affected party or representative will be asked for the following types of information that the Ethics & Compliance Office will use to properly investigate a concern:

  • Name and contact information
  • The specific project or program of concern, including region, country and TNC local contact
  • The approximate or actual date of the behavior that is causing a concern
  • The alleged or perceived violation and the harm that is or may be resulting from the violation
  • Any other relevant information or documents, if available
  • Any actions taken so far to resolve the problem, including contact with TNC at the project or Business Unit level
  • Whether confidentiality is requested

TNC’s Ethics & Compliance Process

  1. The Ethics & Compliance Office receives a grievance and determines eligibility.
  2. The Ethics & Compliance Office will acknowledge receipt of the concern within 48 hours.
  3. Within four business days of receipt, the Ethics & Compliance Office will assess eligibility and respond to the affected party or representative about whether or not the complaint raises an eligible grievance. It may be that the complaint should be addressed by another part of the organization or third party. In those situations, TNC will refer the complaint to the appropriate person and notify the affected party or representative.
  4. If the grievance is eligible, the Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer will notify TNC’s project team and Business Unit manager to the extent possible without breaching confidentiality, and also inform the affected party or representative and commence an investigation according to TNC’s investigation procedures and specific considerations for working with IPLCs.
  5. The Ethics & Compliance Office will also notify the Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Office, the Risk Officer, the appropriate TNC legal counsel and other senior leaders as appropriate.
  6. Following the investigation, the Ethics & Compliance Office will develop draft findings, a proposed approach to resolution and an action plan and timeframe and present these to the affected party or representative, TNC’s project team and Business Unit manager. Each party will have five business days to respond to the Ethics & Compliance Office’s proposal.
  7. Within five business days of the receipt of the responses or the due date for responses, the Ethics & Compliance Office may revise the draft proposal and then will issue a decision to the affected party or representative, TNC’s project team and business unit manager. TNC’s project team, Business Unit manager and the affected party are expected to implement the action plan in the decision.
  8. The Ethics & Compliance Office will monitor implementation of the action plan and check in regularly with the affected party or representative as specified in the action plan.

Wenland Case Study Introduction

Welcome to Wenland

Wenland is a vast subarctic island. The European state of Albian claimed Wenland as a territorial possession during Albian’s period of expansion in the 1600s.

Historically, the Wen people were nomadic, and their traditional lands stretch across Europe from as far back as pre-Roman times. In the late 19th century during a surge in intolerant nationalism across Europe, the Wen were forcibly resettled to Wenland. They settled the southern part of the island, but as Albian immigrants began to travel to Wenland’s south coast and settle there, the Wen people were steadily pushed north into the permafrost region, known as the Wend.

In 1934, the Albian government issued a proclamation declaring the Wend as a Wen homeland. They funded the development of Wen self-government, but Parliament never ratified the proclamation. The modern Albian government doesn’t recognize the proclamation as legal, perhaps spurred by Albian citizens, most of whom fiercely oppose the idea of a Wen homeland. No one has actively interfered with the Wen’s occupancy and use of the Wend, so most Wen people withhold comment and avoid the issue.

In the 1970s, oil companies began offshore extractive operations without consulting with the Wen. Many Albian workers migrated northward and today the largest towns in the Wend are half Albian and half Wen. These towns have integrated economies and workplaces, but social segregation and ethnic tensions are ongoing. A few smaller Wen-only villages are scattered throughout the Wend.

There are three distinct Wen social and lineal groups: Wenna, Wenebe, and Wennec. Collectively, they’re called Camps, which alludes to the encampments they built when they first arrived in the Wend in the late 1800s. The Wenna and Wenebe Camps are now based in larger towns, while Wennec consists mostly of small villages that are more self-contained. The three Camps generally cooperate but have sometimes developed rivalries. The Wen Camps speak different dialects of Wennish, although they all speak Albian, too. The Wennec villages are the least proficient in Albian, whereas the Wenna and Wenebe are fluent.

One thing all Wen have in common is defining themselves by their survival in — and connection to — the Wend. They recite how countless peoples came to the Wend through the millennia, but only the Wen listened to the land and learned to live with it in harmony. The Wen hold deep knowledge of the landscape and are committed to protecting it.

Likewise, they’re committed to protecting their culture, including their language, traditional dress and ceremonies. A summer celebration draws Wen from all three Camps to sacred sites across the Wend for a month of festivals, cultural immersion and inter-Camp consultation.

The Wen maintain their own institutions of self-government, but they are citizens of Albian and subject to the jurisdiction of the Wenland territorial government.

1B. Wenland Case Study

TNC in Wenland (SCENARIO 2)

Unlike Scenario 1, TNC has a large office in a southern Wenland city and a small office in a northern Wen town, where there are three ethnic Wen on staff. TNC has helped Wennec communities near its northern office fund and manage numerous conservation and community development projects over the years. We have not worked much with the other two Wen Camps.

Let's Say…

Thoughts and Guidance

Let's Say…

1
As in Scenario 1, the TNC team is considering program activities regarding an old easement project for which no FPIC process was conducted. The idea of initiating activities around the easement has come up informally several times in conversations with Wen contacts, and everyone seems in favor. In this Scenario, is a broader FPIC process still necessary?

Thoughts and Guidance


TNC may not need to immediately address the lack of FPIC in every legacy project; however, modifying, expanding, or revisiting a project may trigger that need. Because FPIC is such a powerful relationship-building tool, TNC should not shy away from exploring it. It’s not clear whether the Wennec Camp would be able to authorize further development of the project without involvement from the other Camps or broader Wen authority. An open FPIC process would answer this question and help TNC build trust and relationship with the Wenna and Wenebe Camps as well.

Let's Say…

2
The Wennec Camp wants TNC’s help in developing a herd management program for the Wendbok, a culturally significant reindeer. In the past, Wendboks were a staple of the Wen diet, but overpopulation has become an issue in some regions where fewer Wen youth are taking up hunting.

Thoughts and Guidance


The fact that the proposed action would affect a migratory herd means a management plan is more likely to affect the other Wen Camps as well. And an additional inquiry and consultation are warranted to ensure that all Wen people are being considered in the decision-making.

Let's Say…

3
Following on the above, when TNC asks to begin a broad consultation process about the Wendbok, Wennec leaders firmly object, saying that there are political considerations TNC wouldn’t understand. They also say that a core tenet of Wen self-government is that individual communities control local land- and resource-use decisions — and this authority extends to migratory herds.

Thoughts and Guidance


This scenario introduces tension related to the principle of Respect for Self-Determination, which urges TNC to respect the Wennec’s own understanding of their authority within broader Wen society. Without any clear evidence that this understanding is problematic, TNC should probably defer to the Wennec’s process. At the same time, TNC should let the Wennec know they will be checking in with the Wenna and Wenebe authorities, since TNC owes a duty of Respect for Self-Determination to the Wen people as a whole. TNC should be prepared for difficult cases where respecting a decision from one community could undermine self-determination of another or the community at large.

Let's Say…

4
The Wennec move forward with their herd management program. TNC wildlife specialists who look at their initial plan are dismayed, saying it doesn’t take into account data about the whole ecosystem. The Wen individuals on staff at TNC tell their colleagues that the whole thing is probably just an attempt by local big shots to get around Wenland hunting permit restrictions that the Wen have long objected to. Can TNC take a stand against the program or at least its hasty implementation?

Thoughts and Guidance


TNC does not have the agency to decide what’s best for the Wen. Instead, staff should defer to the Wen’s authority to exercise their self-determination. The fact that the Wennec Camp’s plan does not immediately meet the ideals or expectations of TNC is no reason to depart from Respect for Self-Determination, though it may lead to discussion with the Camp and an offer of assistance.

In any relationship with an IPLC, there is much that TNC likely doesn’t see; here, the Wennec Camp’s plan may rest on Indigenous knowledge about the herd and the ecosystem that is not stated in the plan documents. The fact that TNC has Wen staff members doesn’t negate the fact that TNC is an outsider organization. However, TNC’s commitments to Informed Decision-Making, Meaningful Consultation, and Inclusion could lead TNC to advocate for more discussion of the herd management plan, as long as it does so with respect for the Camp’s ultimate right to decide for itself.

1D. Wenland Case Study

Wen Self-Government

Most Wen live and work alongside the Albian population in Wenland society under the Wenland territorial government and the Albian national government, but Wen self-government persists to an extent. The three Wen Camps occupy areas that partially overlap, and they each maintain a quasi-executive Camp Council.

The Councils, which are majority male but have some female representation, typically focus on efforts to preserve and promote Wen culture. There are also quasi-judicial Elder Councils composed of only men, who advise the Camp Councils and help resolve disputes. The authority of all these Councils has almost never been tested in Albian courts, which exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over the Wen population.

Let's Say…

Thoughts and Guidance

Let's Say…

1
Following up on point 6 in the “Permafrost Crisis” scenario, TNC is now working with all three Wen Councils to agree on an Engagement Plan. The Wenebe and Wennec Councils vehemently disagree on the amount of consultation needed. Both Councils acknowledge that neither is superior and that decisions affecting the Wen can only be made by consensus. Three months go by and the disagreement persists. FrostLock is considering abandoning its Wenland project, which neither Council wants. Can TNC adjust its involvement to pressure the Councils to agree on an approach?

Thoughts and Guidance


The simple but profound truth is, TNC’s work with IPLC institutions must persevere even when things are hard or frustrating. True collaborative relationships and respect for self-determination aren’t contingent on things going as planned. TNC teams have to live with IPLC governance procedures we may find frustrating or counterproductive, but we need to work according to the rules and expectations of the system. Whether TNC can increase advocacy and try to pressure the Councils for legitimate purposes will depend on Wen rules and expectations—but this must be pursued in the spirit of Free Choice and zero tolerance for coercion.

Let's Say…

2
In response to the disagreement, FrostLock suggests that TNC should work with FrostLock on a Plan B to conduct an FPIC process exclusively with the Albian government, noting that the Wen Councils are “just advisory anyway.” Can TNC entertain this suggestion?

Thoughts and Guidance


No. Regardless of what authority the Wen Councils presently exercise under Albian law, Indigenous self-determination and self-government are larger, global commitments that TNC respects and upholds. TNC should embrace any opportunity to support Indigenous self-determination, even if there is an arguable basis not to.

Let's Say…

3
While working with the Wen Councils, TNC is approached by a Wen splinter group, Wenza, that has a longstanding list of grievances about the Councils. Wenza claims that its voice will not be heard in the Council-led consultation process being planned. Does TNC have an obligation to hear Wenza out? What if the Councils tell TNC not to pay attention to Wenza? If TNC does listen to them and believes that Wenza has a legitimate distinct viewpoint that will not otherwise be included in the consultation process, does TNC have an obligation to take steps to include them?

Thoughts and Guidance


TNC must adhere to the rules and expectations of established IPLC institutions, and we don’t get to decide how IPLC institutions should work. At the same time, we must uphold the Principles and Safeguards. Depending on the circumstances, the principles of Equity and Inclusion and Informed Decision-Making might justify encouraging the Councils to include Wenza, or proposing a process for its views to be heard. Any such action should be pursued in service of self-determination, as embodied in the Wen’s established institutions and processes.

Let's Say…

4
Same as the above, except Wenza is a group of Wen women who have spent years fighting for more recognition and influence in the face of what they see as discriminatory practices enacted by the male-dominated Councils.

Thoughts and Guidance


This is a difficult but not unusual scenario. The principles of Equity and Inclusion call for some effort at intervention. Given the existence of gender equity issues and the impact that the massive FrostLock initiative could have on Wen self-government and culture, gender should be considered a key issue. A collaborative analysis should be conducted using TNC’s Guidance for Integrating Gender Equity in Conservation. TNC’s participation lies within a continuum of attention to gender equity — from gender-blind, which often perpetuates entrenched discriminatory practices, to gender-balanced, -sensitive, -responsive and -transformative approaches. TNC does not have the power to dictate an approach to the Wen Councils, but staff should monitor gender equity and determine whether the Equity principle is being observed before proceeding with any initiative.

Let's Say…

5
Same as the above, except that (a) the Councils don’t exclude women from informational sessions, only from having a final vote; (b) TNC becomes aware of claims that most Wen women oppose Wenza’s agenda; and (c) TNC hears from both men and women that Wen women have a strong voice in decision-making via family-based customs and cultural privileges.

Thoughts and Guidance


This scenario is merely designed to illustrate how nuanced and difficult these situations can be. Cultural practices are not necessarily discriminatory just because they don’t map neatly onto the anti-discrimination norm as certain societies understand it. On the other hand, words like “nuance” and even the concept of cultural relativism is sometimes used to sustain problematic privilege models. This further underscores the importance of applying the principles of Equity and Inclusion in a culturally responsive approach.

2B. Wenland Case Study

Consent & the Right to Withhold Consent

Concerns linger about FrostLock and its technology, but the Wen Councils say they will give consent.

They state that they recognize that the gravity of the situation—for the permafrost and for the planet—requires action even if outcomes are uncertain. “We must act. We will deal with problems as they come up,” says one Wen leader.

Let's Say…

Thoughts and Guidance

Let's Say…

1
Leaders of the Wen Councils indicate that they can provide the Wen’s consent to the project without a popular vote. Should TNC push for a different process?

Thoughts and Guidance


Absent some very clear problem, TNC should defer to the Wen Councils about the scope of their authority to speak for the Wen. Nonetheless, TNC may want to review the extent of community involvement in the consultation process. Approval of this initiative is a major decision, and the Wen have a complex and partially divided social structure. Have the principles of Inclusion and Informed Decision-Making been considered for all three Camps? Has the safeguard of the Right to Withhold Consent been protected? If concerns remain, a request for more process or broader indications of community support may be helpful.

Let's Say…

2
Same as above, but Council leadership candidly admits they don’t want to submit this directly to the Wen people who will be fearful of the project. “This is a moment for leadership,” they say. Now should TNC push for a different process?

Thoughts and Guidance


This scenario sharpens the dilemma, but the same analysis applies. The Wen’s self-determination as expressed through their established institutions must be respected. The decision on which matters should get a popular vote versus the determination of representatives is a constitutional decision made in different ways by all societies. To impose an outsider’s view of what is necessary would run counter to self-determination. That said, TNC might legitimately use any leverage we have within the process to advocate in the direction of more consultation and informed decision-making, while still maintaining respect for self-determination.