JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
Indigenous Clean Energy
A new transformative 5-day program designed to empower First Nations people to drive First Nations participation in and ownership of clean energy solutions in communities and negotiate partnership, equity and ownership outcomes is being held this week in Cairns, with 30 First Nations leaders attending.
The First Nations Clean Energy Network invited members of Canada’s Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) to Australia to be co-facilitators of the new PowerMakers program and share their deep knowledge and experience about successfully ensuring Indigenous partners in the energy transition.
Karrina Nolan, co-Chair of the First Nations Clean Energy Network, says without First Nations having a stake in clean and renewable energy as genuine partners and participants, Australia’s energy transition won’t happen at the pace and scale required.
“First Nations people are already identifying renewable energy solutions needed in homes and communities. They want to plan, build and own energy solutions that positively impact and benefit families and communities already suffering the impacts of climate change.
“Settings including rebates and grants have been available for some years across Australia, policy, regulatory and financial barriers remain inhibiting First Nations access to affordable reliable clean energy solutions.
“Many communities are still reliant on diesel, and where there is electricity, suffer disproportionate power disconnections and related health and wellbeing impacts.
“Concurrently, these same First Nations communities are responding to multiple proponents – from domestic to multinational – wanting to urgently build massive large-scale energy projects on their land.
“The PowerMakers program is essential to assist First Nations groups successfully negotiate with proponents early engagement, ongoing consent, equity partnerships and ownership while also planning for and developing locally based energy solutions to benefit families and communities currently missing out.”
Following a competitive process, 30 First Nations participants from communities across Australia were selected for PowerMakers from over 100 applicants.
The participants will spend five days in an immersive experience learning about renewable energy, community energy planning, advanced energy systems, project ownership and negotiation, and business management.
Chris Henderson, founding executive director of ICE says while Australia is at the starting block, Canada’s Indigenous communities began seeking clean energy sovereignty and the development of community-led projects over 20 years ago.
“Since then, First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities have become some of the most powerful clean energy change agents in the country, owning or co-owning over 20% of Canada’s clean energy infrastructure projects and thousands of smaller, community-based installations.
“In the last decade alone, this First Nations leadership in Canada has fostered 200 medium to large renewable energy projects which have helped to generate $1.5 billion in Indigenous business and employment contracts.”
Two years ago, Daphne Kay, a member of the Cowessess First Nation, participated in ICE’s capacity-building initiative, known as the 20/20 Catalysts Program. Her involvement in this program aimed to grow her role as a Community Energy Specialist at Cowessess Ventures Ltd., where she supported clean energy project developments in her Nation.
Daphne has since transitioned to the Global Hub Manager role at ICE where she has been sharing her experiences, expertise and teachings to support Indigenous kin around the world.
“When I first started working for my Nation, I took the 20/20 Catalysts Program thinking I would be able to further help my people. But what I didn’t realise was that the Catalysts Program was a window to a network of incredible changemakers who collectively work for the betterment of all beings,” says Daphne.
“We don’t consider ourselves stakeholders. We consider ourselves rights-holders. We have rights over this land, meaning we have obligations to steward the land in a sustainable way for the next generations of all creation.
“Unfortunately, Indigenous Peoples around the world experience systemic legacies of colonisation. As we take back our power and create spaces like the PowerMakers Program, we are healing ourselves. We are reconnecting to each other and the land and envisioning how we move forward as a collective.”
PowerMakers aims to address Community, industry and government-identified gaps in First Nations clean energy capacity in Australia, further enabling the federal government’s National Energy Transformation Partnership commitments to be met.
The inaugural capacity-building program for First Nations is made possible by philanthropic donations and a grant from the Clean Energy Council.
It is hoped the program will be delivered annually going forward to support the next generation of First Nations leaders in tackling policy constructs and barriers imposed by regulatory environments and an unreasonable lack of access to capital to progress local, mid- and large-scale clean energy solutions in partnership with industry and government.
PowerMakers is a 5-day immersive experience dedicated to providing practical and applied learning in renewable energy, including project ownership and negotiation, community energy planning, business management, and advanced energy systems.
Our goal is to equip First Nations participants with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to spearhead clean energy initiatives and make a positive impact both within their communities while also taking First Nations leadership of the clean energy transition in Australia to the next level.
During this program, participants have the opportunity to engage with industry experts, passionate mentors, and like-minded peers. The curriculum combines theory with real-world applications, enabling participants to become leaders in the clean energy transition and progress clean energy projects successfully.
Over the five days, we explore community energy landscapes, delve into energy engagement, planning, and the practical steps to bring renewable energy projects to life.
Participants also learn about maximising benefits for community, building strong partnerships, mastering negotiation tools, and mapping out project financing with equity in mind. We also dive into effective lobbying techniques that can make a real impact.
The PowerMakers program provides an opportunity to unite as First Nations people, to combat climate change.
Our ancestral ties to the land and deep understanding of its balance make us acutely aware of the threats posed by climate change. Embracing renewable energy is crucial to preserving our culture, heritage, and environment. By harnessing sustainable energy sources, we can honour our traditions and ensure a resilient future for generations to come.
PowerMakers provides First Nations participants with:
- An in-depth understanding of clean energy technologies, their practical applications, and the Australian energy and policy landscape.
- An understanding of the risks and rewards of ownership of clean energy projects.
- Strategies and tools for effective negotiations, choosing and developing partnerships, and maximising benefits from clean energy projects (including employment strategies and other economic and entrepreneurial opportunities).
- An understanding of project financing and equity structures associated with clean energy projects.
- Strategies for understanding the political landscape and exercising power and influence.
- Strategies for effective community energy planning and creating an energy vision.