TNC Human Rights Guide

Case Study

We’ve created a narrative about an imaginary European territory, Wenland, where the Wen people are facing many of the common impacts of the legacies and current realities of colonialism on IPLCs, including displacement, cultural dispersal and territorial disputes. In the following case study, we imagine various scenarios that TNC staff might encounter in their work with IPLCs, national governments and private companies, with each scenario tied to a particular module, to provide concrete examples and thought-provoking prompts related to the concepts in the modules. Through these scenarios, we encourage our staff to think deeply, engage in the nuance, challenge their individual biases, push for widespread inclusion and engagement, and center IPLCs as the most knowledgeable stewards of the land, as we work toward sustainable solutions that work for everyone. We rely, as always, on the nine Principles and Safeguards in imagining these scenarios, and what to do about each.

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.

1A. Wenland Case Study

TNC in Wenland (Scenario 1)

TNC has several offices in mainland Albian and in Albian cities in Wenland.

We have managed and participated in several Albian conservation initiatives since the late 1980s. Our only project in the Wend to date was a coastal conservation easement funded by a private donor in 1997.

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.

1C. Wenland Case Study

The Permafrost Crisis

In July 2019, a groundbreaking study on data gathered from a global network of permafrost test sites confirmed what climate experts had long feared: permafrost throughout the subarctic is thawing and beginning to release massive amounts of stored methane and CO2 into the atmosphere.

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.

2A. Wenland Case Study

Consultation Coalition

FrostLock has convened civil society organizations, Albian national and Wenland territorial government agencies and Wen Councils for a series of consultations on the possibility of deploying its technology across the Wenland permafrost. FrostLock will use its start-up funding to pay for the consultation, which will also address issues related to the administration of the Conservation Management Area that FrostLock is funding.

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.

3A. Wenland Case Study

Conflict Resolution

The Wen have given consent for the permafrost stabilization initiative. They are also attracted to the annual conservation funding FrostLock has committed to provide, although FrostLock hasn’t given a concrete figure — just a range.

Detailed planning discussions proceed among TNC, FrostLock, the Wen and the Albian government.

4A. Wenland Case Study

Implementation

The permafrost stabilization initiative is moving forward. FrostLock will implement 25 permafrost stabilization test sites in the far north. The initiative includes funding for Environmental Monitoring Committees to monitor water quality and other potential adverse impacts in towns near the test sites, which are almost exclusively Wen.

5A. Wenland Case Study

Documentation

As the permafrost stabilization initiative gets up and running, the TNC team conducts a documentation review per the Guide, assessing what the team has been collecting throughout the process.

6A. Wenland Case Study

Monitoring, Evaluation & Adaptation

The permafrost stabilization initiative has been operational for three years, and the initial data on stabilization is promising. Some complaints about construction noise have come through, but there’s no evidence of environmental issues.

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.

1A. Wenland Case Study

TNC in Wenland (SCENARIO 1)

TNC has several offices in mainland Albian and in Albian cities in Wenland.

We have managed and participated in several Albian conservation initiatives since the late 1980s. Our only project in the Wend to date was a coastal conservation easement funded by a private donor in 1997.

The donor allocated funding to pay a Wenebe community to steward the land and provide annual reports. The extent of consultation on the project is unknown. The agreement was purportedly signed by a Wen leader that today, no one has heard of. We have no evidence of reports or documentation of any discussions and the funding ran out in the early 2000s.

Soon after, the rapid growth of a nearby town, now populated by more Albian oil workers and their families than Wenebe, led to the construction of an Albian commuter suburb not far from the easement.

Let's Say…

Thoughts and Guidance

Let's Say…

1
Wenland’s TNC team would like to increase conservation activities in the Wend, and has lots of ideas, starting with using the old easement as an inroad. The team knows that it needs to consult the Wenebe and is excited to hear their views. Are there any other considerations?

Thoughts and Guidance


The TNC team can initiate research and early discussions with the Wenebe and should engage in discussion with all three Camps, following guidance in the Learning and Early Discussions Module. However, if the Wen have not actively sought our involvement, TNC needs to exercise special care to make sure the IPLC perspective and right of self-determination are at the center of the process.

TNC should acknowledge that as a large U.S.-based conservation organization, we are an outsider (see How to Use This Guide and When It Applies section of the Introduction to this Guide). TNC’s identity and privilege could lead to displacing prerogatives that belong to the Wen, since TNC doesn’t have deep roots in the Wend or close connections with the Wen people. Before coming in and proposing to help, a more gradual development of these relationships, not in pursuit of any specific initiative, may be more welcome and yield better results.

Let's Say…

2
As regards the old easement, it seems clear that no FPIC was conducted at the time. Does TNC need to conduct an FPIC process now?

Thoughts and Guidance


FPIC is an evolving standard. It is not necessarily wrong that prior interactions did not adhere to a standard that didn’t yet exist. At the same time, TNC’s Principles and Safeguards such as Respect for Self-Determination and Overarching Good Faith are forward-looking and not satisfied by technical defenses of past events. If the easement negatively impacts the Wen’s right to self-determination, or if there is lingering resentment about the lack of consultation, an FPIC process may be needed.

Let's Say…

3
A local Albian conservation group, Albian Trust, has contacted TNC to sponsor the Trust’s proposal for new government funding to steward the land and expand the easement. Is an FPIC process with the Wen required before TNC can agree?

Thoughts and Guidance


In this case, the legacy project is being updated and reworked. Contemporary standards apply, so yes, an FPIC process is needed.

Let's Say…

4
Albian Trust’s proposal describes the easement as being located on untitled government territory. When TNC says FPIC is needed, the Trust responds that the Wen have no territory and are not Indigenous since they came to Wenland at the same time as the Albian. The Trust further notes that the Albian government has decreed that the Wen have no collective or other special land rights and that TNC must respect national law. How should TNC react?

Thoughts and Guidance


It is not for TNC to determine the Indigenous status of the Wen people. And while TNC cannot violate national law, we can maintain our own commitments, which include actively supporting Indigenous self-determination. The Wen have a profound, ancestral relationship to the landscape despite their relatively recent arrival, and they have maintained their culture and language despite significant integration with Albian society. Most critically, the Wen consider themselves Indigenous. Thus, there are plenty of reasons for TNC to condition our own involvement on rigorous compliance with the Principles and Safeguards in this Guide.

Let's Say…

5
Same as above, except that instead of arguing against FPIC, Albian Trust gladly agrees to any process that TNC or the Wen feel is necessary. However, it notes that a residential suburb of Albian oil workers is closest in proximity to the easement. Should the suburb be included in Wen dialogue and FPIC? Does it have the same right to grant or withhold consent as the Wen?

Thoughts and Guidance


Absent more facts, an Albian residential suburb (built recently and for occupational purposes) would not appear to satisfy even the broad standard of profound connection to landscape that TNC uses. Thus, the residents of that suburb would not have the same right to grant or withhold consent as the Wen. That said, the principle of Inclusion would weigh in favor of including the suburb residents and other stakeholders as much as possible, in consultation with the Wen as Indigenous rights holders.

Let's Say…

6
Same as above, but instead of a suburb of oil workers, the closest community is a commune of young Albian back-to-the-land families who focus on sustainable agriculture and living by traditional Albian religious values. They believe the Albian people were guided to Wenland by God, and they consider protecting the land to be a sacred trust. They also view the easement as critical to protecting their fresh water supply and right to a healthy environment.

Thoughts and Guidance


The prior analysis stands, but it need not be exclusionary. To the extent the Albian community is motivated by a genuine connection to the land and sees its rights as intertwined with the land, its inclusion as a stakeholder can reflect its relationship to the land, even if it doesn’t exercise Indigenous rights.

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.