November 17, 2021

First Nations communities share benefits of renewable energy

First Nations groups have formed a collaboration with industry, unions, and research groups to make certain that Australia’s Indigenous communities benefit from the economic growth of renewable energy which includes solar.

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First Nations Group has formed a new alliance. 

The First Nations Clean Energy Network will bring Indigenous communities and renewable businesses together to deliver clean energy projects whilst protecting the cultural heritage and respect of native title of Indigenous communities.

The aims of the initiative are to avoid mistakes made repeated by the mining sector, whilst ensuring renewables are used to help improve the supply of power to remote and regional communities.

Karrina Nolan, the executive director of Original Power and a key initiator of the network, said the initiative would help position First Nations groups as core participants in Australia’s transition to clean energy sources. 

“We’re ready to partner with governments and industry to develop clean energy projects that will deliver benefits for all Australians.” Said Nolan. 

“Indigenous land title is now recognised over more than half the Australian continent, with rich renewable energy resources including sun and wind power. As demand drives new renewable energy zones, our consent will be more critical than ever.” 

In recent years, Australia has seen a growth in renewable energy projects controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional owner groups, including massive wind and solar projects in regions dominated by the presence of resources companies. 
 

Winds and solar projects require for permanent changes and the negotiationof land use agreements with traditional heritage owners. Many interactions with major resources companies have proven to be problematic – which has included the use of unconscionable tactics in interactions with traditional owners to secure land use agreements and the reckless destruction of sites with substantial heritage value in the pursuit of resources – leaving some apprehensive about the sudden growth of renewable energy development. 

 

A recently concluded parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of caves at the Juukan Gorge – that had been host to heritage sites dating back 46,000 years – by resources giant Rio Tinto found that the incident was just one example of many such disasters “where cultural heritage has been the victim of the drive for development and commercial gain.” 

The final report of the parliamentary inquiry called on new industries, including the renewable energy industry, to learn from the mistakes made by the mining sector when working with First Nations communities and areas of significant heritage value. 

 

“The same principles apply to other industries, particularly in the context of a transition to renewables, opening the way for them to learn from the mistakes of the mining boom and pay respect to the living heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” the Juukan inquiry report says. 

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the creation of the new First Nations Clean Energy Network would help ensure the renewables sector is working collaboratively with First Nations people. 

“The clean energy industry wants to put its best foot forward through genuine collaboration with First Nations communities, respecting the Indigenous Estate, sharing the benefits of clean energy through sustainable and equitable practice and protecting an ancient culture. This Network will be invaluable in achieving this mission,” Thornton said. 

References

Renew Economy

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