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Getting ready for the First Nations Clean Energy Symposium

With the Federal government’s Budget around the corner and its inaugural First Nations Clean Energy Strategy soon to be launched, our two-day First Nations Clean Energy Symposium on 8-9 May in Tarntanya (Adelaide) seeks to examine how far we’ve come in ensuring First Nations are central in Australia’s energy transition - a commitment by all Australian energy ministers announced in 2022.

Our Symposium brings together several hundred First Nations leaders and community members, and government, industry, unions, academics and expert representatives to put First Nations achievements to-date on the table, including 15 significant First Nations clean energy project partnerships, a clear narrative of engagement, consent and partnering, and policy settings revamped to prioritise early engagement, partnerships, equity, ownership and benefit-sharing. 

Hosted by the First Nations Clean Energy Network, the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, and the National Native Title Council, we will highlight wins showing project achievements and what genuine engagement looks like, and tease out ongoing barriers from getting rooftop solar and reliable electricity, to gaining consent and negotiating equity and benefit-sharing in major projects on Country, determining ‘where to next’.

View the program and speakers here

Context for the Symposium

Over a quarter of Australia’s energy generation now comes from renewables.

This is driving a massive shift in Australia’s energy system and economy and First Nations people can and should benefit from this transition where genuine consent is given, whether from small community-based projects to large scale clean energy, jobs, and supply chain business opportunities. 

The opportunity of renewable energy should and can be available to all. But we know for many of our communities affordable, secure and clean power is not yet a reality. 

First Nations communities are still faced with unreliable and expensive power and the impacts of this are worsening as extreme temperatures increase because of climate change. The regulatory environment is complex and can frustrate efforts to build energy security, which is exacerbated for many First Nations because of substandard housing that is not energy efficient. 

Despite this, many First Nations communities are engaged in the clean energy transition and are either proactively considering, negotiating or partnering in developing clean energy projects, at both a community level to a nation and export level.

There are now 15 significant First Nations clean energy partnerships in Australia, and we expect many more to be announced over the next few years as industry and government get up to speed in realising the significant benefits of First Nations-led projects.

As Canada has found, and as financiers in Australia are realising, partnering with First Nations across the project lifecycle from pre-feasibility engagement though to post-project closure, can reduce delay, risk and costs by increasing engagement, community buy-in, local employment, business development and benefit-sharing opportunities, realising positive impacts on land, social licence and energy security, and achieving sustainable clean energy projects.

First Nations people have substantial native title rights and interests on land and sea encompassing many of our richest energy resources including sun, wind, waters and essential transition minerals. 

First Nations’ land/sea and consent will be more critical than ever. 

Our First Nations voices, interests, aspirations and rights are central to the country’s energy transition which we know must be done at pace and with justice in order to tackle climate change.

We will make sure clean energy is done the right way, driven by our communities and developed so it sustains country and culture for generations to come.

We will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are able to participate in and benefit equitably from the scaling of renewable energy generation and production, creating jobs, building skills and stronger communities, while addressing climate change which threatens our country and people.

We will also assert our right to consent, or not, to projects on our country, ensuring some of the mistakes of the extractive industry are not repeated, so we share in the benefits as renewable energy expands, while protecting our cultural heritage.

We want to ensure our people are part of the renewable energy revolution, from household solar through to incubation of community-owned projects and equitable arrangements for large scale renewable projects. This will require investment and a supportive government policy framework and a commitment from industry and investors to apply best practice principles. 

We aim to keep building trust, collaboration and relationships between First Nations communities and government, industry and other stakeholders to ensure all parties are working together towards a just and clean energy transition.

Key themes being explored at the Symposium:

  • Supporting the development of community-owned renewable energy projects to deliver lower-cost, reliable energy
  • Powering job opportunities and strong economies so our mob can live and work on Country
  • Developing collaborative pathways to community-led small, medium and large scale clean energy solutions 
  • Building in First Nations early engagement and free prior and informed consent to reduce risk and cost and increase shared benefits
  • Accelerating First Nations partnerships, equity and ownership, embedding First Nations leadership 
  • Implementing the First Nations Clean Energy Strategy and recommendations for policy and regulatory reform.


We hope to see you there!!