Renewable energy development on the Indigenous Estate: Free, prior and informed consent and best practice in agreement-making in Australia

Renewable energy development on the Indigenous Estate: Free, prior and informed consent and best practice in agreement-making in Australia
Lily O’Neill, Kathryn Thorburn, Bradley Riley, Ganur Maynard, Esmé Shirlow, Janet Hunt
Energy Research & Social Science, November 2021; 81
Abstract
    In Australia, large-scale renewable energy projects are being developed or proposed on lands over which First Nations hold rights and interests. Our review of the literature on renewable energy and First Nations peoples globally indicates that renewable energy projects are likely to present risks in the distribution of socio-economic and environmental impacts, as well as significant opportunities for First Nation benefit. This paper explores the conditions under which First Nations people with communal property rights and interests in their traditional land are likely to derive benefit from large scale renewable energy projects.

We examine ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC), a widely-recognised international human rights standard that sets out a consent, information and consultation framework for proposed developments on First Nation land. In calling for the just economic inclusion and participation of First Nation people in large-scale renewable energy projects we propose that ‘free, prior and informed consent’ offers a suitable framework for approaching the development of these projects. Furthermore, we detail what is best, and worst, practice in agreement making, based on previous First Nations agreement making experience, predominately with the resource extraction sector.

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