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Is this a pivotal moment for industry to place First Nations communities at the centre of the clean energy transition?

A new guide outlines Free, Prior and Informed Consent for the renewables industry.

As Australia’s shift to clean energy progresses, we must ensure improved outcomes for communities and respect for the rights of First Nations peoples.

That is the precise intention of the guide Leading Principles: First Nations and Renewable Energy Projects, co-authored by the Clean Energy Council and KPMG.

This project is the first ever comprehensive national guide on meaningful engagement, consent, participation and benefit-sharing with First Nations people on renewable energy projects. 

It outlines a comprehensive framework, through ten principles developed by the First Nations Clean Energy Network (FNCEN) to guide industry practices, emphasizing the centrality of First Nations' voices and interests in the energy transition. 

Importantly, it also sets out expectations for industry and details key considerations for engagement at each stage of a project’s life cycle. At its core, is an emphasis on the importance of building respectful and collaborative relationships between industry stakeholders and Indigenous communities to ensure the successful development and operation of renewable energy projects. 

In a groundbreaking move towards inclusivity and collaboration, this initiative marks a pivotal moment in the renewable energy sector, emphasizing the importance of Indigenous voices and interests in the clean energy transition.

“What we can’t have happen again is people saying ‘I didn’t know where to start.’” Chris Croker, FNCEN. 

Chris Coker, a descendant of the Luritja people and Steering Committee Member of the FNCEN,  emphasizes the urgency for improvement, warning against being left out of the global energy transition. The strategy outlined in the guide aims for positives outcomes similar to those that have been achieved in Canada, highlighting comprehensive engagement to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance and exclusion. 

One of the most significant takeaways from the guide’s development is the importance of community engagement. As one participant noted, the level of engagement is crucial, and acknowledging gaps in knowledge and the need for continuous learning is essential for progress.

Arron Wood AM, Chief Policy and Impact Officer at the Clean Energy Council, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that reconciliation is not just a concept but a tangible action. He highlights the leadership of the First Nations Clean Energy Network and the opportunity to apply reconciliation as a "doing word" in the clean energy transition on Aboriginal land. 

“It’s a win win win – win for the environment, win for the projects and win for the communities.” Karrina Nolan, Original Power.

Karrina Nolan, a descendant of the Yorta Yorta people and Executive Director at Original Power, underscores the need for scalability while ensuring the involvement of all communities. She emphasizes the importance of investment and resources to empower Indigenous communities. 

The Leading Principles guide signifies a significant step towards a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future in the renewable energy sector. By centering First Nations' voices and interests, it sets a precedent for meaningful collaboration and reconciliation in the clean energy transition.

RE-Alliance proudly supports  the work of First Nations leaders in this space and we congratulate the First Nations Clean Energy Network and Clean Energy Council on this important work. We look forward to the future release of the Australian Government’s First Nations Clean Energy Strategy which will play a crucial role in improving outcomes for First Nations communities in our economic shift to renewables. 

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