Chile has faced challenges with economic development infrastructure projects due to its history of territorial conflict with indigenous communities. To address the need for greater territorial integration and social inclusion, the Chilean government has introduced specific mechanisms for transparency and consultation, including infrastructure monitoring platforms, the creation of sub-national institutions to improve indigenous participation, and adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.
To ensure citizens are aware of their rights and to minimise corruption, a Council for Transparency was introduced in 2009 to help combat corruption, ensure citizens’ access to information and monitor lawful conduct. Chile’s “National Investment System” was also introduced and provides information relating to the status and cost of public investments across all sectors and regions. The Ministry of Social Development and Family provides information to civil society through its online “Integrated Project Database”, particularly aimed at those affected by infrastructure investments such as indigenous communities.
Consultation was the next step. The Ministry of Public Works established specific participation mechanisms through Resolution 315 in 2015. This resolution stipulates that public participation must be guaranteed throughout the whole infrastructure life-cycle. This means engaging with involved stakeholders, including indigenous communities, from the very beginning of the planning stages of infrastructure projects. Citizen consultation is carried out by selecting participants that are representative of the entire community with special attention given to gender, disabilities and indigenous identities.
The Official Document from the Public Works General Directorate 539 further ensures consultation of indigenous people in infrastructure. Under this directorate infrastructure projects delivered by the Ministry of Works, require consultation with indigenous communities conducted by the Ministry of Social Development and Family. The latter Ministry consults directly with indigenous communities and draws up recommendations based on this. The Ministry of Works must then integrate these recommendations into its projects. There are thus multiple legal and institutional frameworks that ensure indigenous stakeholder participation in infrastructure projects in Chile.
Source: OECD, Gaps and Governance Standards of Public Infrastructure in Chile: Infrastructure Governance Review, 2017; UN Environment Programme, Integrated Approaches in Action: A Companion to the International Good Practice Principles for Sustainable Infrastructure, 2021