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Marcus Colchester

Senior Policy Advisor, Forest Peoples Programme

Marcus Colchester is an Oxford University-trained anthropologist with master’s degree in Zoology and a doctorate in Social Anthropology, who has carried out field work over 45 years with forest peoples around the tropics and in Siberia. In 1990, he founded and directed the international human rights organisation, Forest Peoples Programme, for which he now acts as Senior Policy Advisor. He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Oxford Brookes University, the Lucy Mair Medal for Applied Anthropology from the Royal Anthropological Institute, and a Pew Conservation Fellowship in recognition of his contributions to conservation. He has published extensively in peer reviewed scientific journals as well as numerous books and ‘grey literature’, including about palm oil. He has acted as a consultant for diverse organisations including FAO, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, ICRAF, CIFOR, WWF, Greenpeace and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He was appointed as an Expert for the International Labour Organisation’s Commission on the Revision of ILO Convention 107 and was involved in the drafting of ILO Convention 169, which replaced it. He also led the participatory consultations with indigenous peoples for the World Commission on Dams and the Extractive Industries Review, both of which then adopted policies requiring indigenous peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent. He has provided expert testimony to hearings of various legislatures including US Congress, UK Parliament and European Parliament. He has engaged continuously with RSPO since 2004 and has participated in most of the standard-setting committees relating to land rights and human rights (Criteria WG, Certification WG, P&C Revision Task Forces, NPP WG, HRWG, BHCVWG, DSF Advisory Group etc. and for several years led the Task Force on Smallholders). He is principal author of RSPO’s 2008 and 2015 Guides on FPIC. He is a member of the IUCN Task Force on Oil Palm in representation of the Commission on Economic, Environmental and Social Policy. He is a member of the Forest Stewardship Council and is on the Executive Committee of The Forest Dialogue.