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First Nations engagement guide launched for renewable energy sector

Giovanni Torre -

The first comprehensive national guide on engagement, consent, participation and benefit-sharing with First Nations people on renewable energy projects was launched Thursday.

The new guide sets out expectations for industry and details considerations for engagement at each stage of a project's lifecycle.

Co-authored by the Clean Energy Council and KPMG, Leading Principles: First Nations and Renewable Energy Projects puts into operation all ten of the First Nations Clean Energy Network's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Best Practice Principles for Clean Energy Projects.

First Nations Clean Energy Network co-chair Karrina Nolan said First Nations communities are central to the Australian government's plan for the renewables roll out.

"The guide provides a new template for governments, industry and First Nations communities to work together towards the shared goal of more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all," she said.

"Meaningful engagement with First Nations communities leading to energy partnerships, equity and ownership opportunities stands to maximise community support for projects, increase opportunities for local employment and businesses, and deliver stronger outcomes for sustainability and energy security.

"The rights, interests and aspirations of First Nations peoples must be front and centre to achieve a just clean energy transformation, minimising risks, costs and delays for renewable energy projects being planned, developed and operated on country.

"And it's something which must be done in partnership with industry. This guide can help with that."

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the intention of the guide is to ensure respect for the rights of First Nations peoples and improved outcomes for communities.

"Australia's clean energy sector has identified the need for stronger engagement and relationships with First Nations peoples," he said.

"We are proud to partner with the First Nations Clean Energy Network and KPMG to forge a path ahead for Australia's clean energy industry to work hand in hand with First Nations communities.

"With proper practices in place, the essential work of the energy transition will not only accelerate Australia towards achieving its targets but provide First Nations Australians with an opportunity to be heard and play a crucial role in a defining economic shift for the country."

KPMG Indigenous Services Lead, Glen Brennan, said that the launch of the guide marks a "significant milestone in unifying industry and First Nations peoples".

"First Nations communities have an intrinsic relationship with the natural environment and understanding of sustainable land cultivation and management through traditional knowledge and practices," he said.

"As Australia moves forward with meeting its environmental, energy and emissions reduction commitments, it will be critical that the renewable energy sector includes and acknowledges the perspectives of First Nations peoples through meaningful engagement, obtaining consent, partnerships, equity and ownership opportunities."

The guide is available online.

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