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Global Environmental Politics (2019) 19 (3): 120–132.


Indigenous peoples around the world are concerned about the long-term impacts of industrial activities and natural resource extraction projects on their traditional territories. Environmental impact studies, environmental risk assessments (EAs), and risk management protocols are offered as tools that can address some of these concerns. However, these tools are not universally required in jurisdictions, and this Forum intervention considers whether these technical tools might be reshaped to integrate Indigenous communities’ interests, with specific attention to traditional knowledge. Challenges include unrealistic timelines to evaluate proposed projects, community capacity, inadequate understanding of Indigenous communities, and ineffective communicatio, all of which contribute to pervasive distrust in EAs by many Indigenous communities. Despite efforts to address these problems, substantive inequities persist in the way that EAs are conducted as infringement continues on constitutionally protected Indigenous rights. This article highlights challenges within the EA process and presents pathways for improving collaboration and outcomes with Indigenous communities.


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