Two years ago today the First Nations Clean Energy Network was launched on Arrernte country in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). We’ve come so far and done so much since then - it’s hard to believe we’re just two years old!
Our ambition in launching the Network was, and remains, clear. We want to ensure First Nations people and communities have a seat at the negotiating table when it comes to clean energy.
We want equity and genuine, beneficial partnership in projects, economic benefits, job opportunities, including in our communities, and ready access to clean, lower-cost and reliable power.
We want to address climate change and protect Country and culture for generations to come.
We know through community-led solutions, consent, collaboration, and self-determination, and meaningful equity partnerships with neighbouring nations, industry and government, we can accelerate the clean energy transition.
With guidance from our fabulous Steering Committee and the numerous and ongoing conversations and engagements with First Nations groups around the country, let’s look at some of what we’ve achieved to date.
- We now have over 450 First Nations members (that number comprises individuals and entities) and almost 2,000 supporters. Growing daily, our LinkedIn page now has over 5,600 followers, demonstrating that the Network is a trusted, influential and authoritative voice.
- We co-developed, funded and delivered to 32 First Nations leaders our inaugural PowerMakers capacity building program in partnership with Canada’s Indigenous Clean Energy, which was such a success we’re already in planning for the next PowerMakers in 2024.
- We advocated to lift significant federal and state regulatory barriers to renewable energy development, resulting in Energy Ministers in 2022 agreeing to spend the last 12 months engaging with First Nations across the country in the co-design of a First Nations Clean Energy Strategy, as a priority action under the National Energy Transformation Partnership. We’ve assisted in pulling together a number of roundtables around the country for First Nations people, industry and government as a result, with more to come. That Strategy is currently being written with plans for implementation in 2024.
- We’ve collaborated as part of a core team of organisations working on the Australian Renewable Industry Package collaboration - to ensure that Australia’s response to the US’ Inflation Reduction Act is built on principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and a package of incentives and policy arrangements to ensure First Nations participation and benefit.
- We’ve initiated the First Nations Jobs Pathways Initiative, a project to identify clear pathways for quality jobs and careers for First Nations Australians in the clean energy sector.
- We launched two Best Practice Network Guides which continue to be held up as a blueprint for First Nations communities, industry and government. We’re launching with the Clean Energy Council an implementation guide to the Best Practice Principles in February 2024.
- We’ve developed a new online resource highlighting First Nations participation and/or equity in over a dozen new clean energy projects around Australia, to be published before year end, to demonstrate the transformative potential of a First Nations-led clean energy transition.
- We’ve developed a new Community Energy and Implementation Toolkit for First Nations groups to assist in planning and developing community-led renewable energy projects, to be launched before year end.
- Our website has lots of new and useful information tools including finance and funding opportunities, policy barriers and opportunities around the country, and a new Members Only Hub which has a growing number of clean energy video case studies with First Nations people talking about what worked and other lessons, tools and short films providing a platform for learning about renewable energy and associated technologies, a page with information about agreements and settlements, and other resources.
- We’re delivering Members-only webinars to build capacity with and share knowledge of First Nations.
- We convened the First Nations Clean Energy Symposium 2022 with ILSC, NNTC and First Nations, industry and government sharing stories and mapping pathways for reform and innovation, with the next Symposium to be held in 2024.
- We’ve established a number of working groups to advise the Network, including in policy, research, community and industry.
- We’ve published numerous op eds, papers and submissions and participated in high-level policy reform at a national and state/territory level advocating for changes to the way renewables are delivered to First Nations households.
- We’ve been invited to speak at so many conferences, forums and meetings there’s too many to count! And at each one, we continue to share the message of the Network, that First Nations people must be front and centre of Australia's energy transition, working in partnership with industry and government, to avoid delay.
- We’ve been pumping out the message in the media, changing the narrative and amplifying the critical role of energy, and First Nations access to clean energy, and inclusion in Australia’s economic transformation to clean energy as an enabler for First Nations choice, economic empowerment and improved lives and livelihoods.
- And finally, we’ve won numerous awards! Including the Clean Energy Council 'First Nations Engagement and Participation' Award , and The Australian’s Top 100 Green Power List for 2023. Our Steering Group members have also won awards, including the Australian Geographic Society Award for 'Conservationist of the Year' won by Karrina Nolan.
In sum, the last two years have helped us develop a deeper knowledge of First Nations opportunities and barriers in the clean energy sector, of emerging risks (there are many) and of market gaps (in terms of actions that could assist achieve our vision).
With this knowledge and experience we are already looking ahead to what we can achieve in 2024.
We want to catalyse First Nations leadership in the clean energy sector through capacity and capability building, ensure rigorous implementation of the government’s First Nations Clean Energy Strategy, and loads more advocacy for action around the development of innovative financing tools, increasing investment, resourcing and enabling community-led renewable energy solutions, increasing information flow to all First Nations in Australia, deep dive into energy efficiency measures and barriers, and further build First Nations clean energy leaders.
And that’s just a start! There is so much to do.
Please congratulate yourself on being a valued supporter of our Network.
Only with your ongoing support can we achieve our very big but necessary mission.
There is no time to lose.
HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY from the FIRST NATIONS CLEAN ENERGY NETWORK!!