By Jeremy Gaunt
Some 118 countries pledged at the COP28 environment summit this month that they will triple their renewable energy capacity by 2030. But who, apart from the planet as a whole, will benefit?
Nonette Royo, Tenure Facility’s executive director, joined a panel on the side-lines of the Dubai meeting to call for actions to ensure that the global transition to clean energy leaves no one behind.
This is particularly salient given that land that may be used for renewable energy such as wind, solar and hydro is found in developing countries and, crucially, where Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities live.
“The idea really is for people to participate in projecting targets. They are the ones that should be participating, because it’s their territory,” Royo said.
There is concern that top-down international and governmental decisions will be taken without recourse to the views of people who live in and are guardians of environmentally sensitive land.
As one example, the majority of global projects in the carbon trading system, which pays people to preserve forests, are taking place on indigenous and community lands often without their consent.
Similarly, projects aimed at enhancing biodiversity, tapping hydro power, and creating conservation levels have in the recent past dislodged or damaged the lives people who have lived in the affected areas for generations.
"When we're not doing collective work and planning, we end up with conflict. And a huge amount of energy and investment goes to waste"
Doing it the right way
Royo outlined three areas she believes must be considered if global plans for a greener world are not to ride roughshod over Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
The first is inclusion.
“Look at the land use and talk to the people who will be involved in that land use plan. Then do exactly what is required, respect the process, and consult and talk to those individuals who can provide input and their traditional knowledge,” she said.
Second comes a new way of looking at innovation; it is not just a matter of new technology.
“Innovation does not exclude traditional knowledge,” Royo said, adding that knowledge is not easily acquired from Indigenous Peoples if there is a lack of trust between all the parties concerned.
A growing number of scientific studies have concluded that Indigenous Peoples are the best guardians of the land they live on because of the knowledge they have amassed over time about it.
Finally, Royo said that the financing of renewable and associated projects needs to be undertaken in partnership with local communities, respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent.
“When we’re not doing collective work and planning, we end up with conflict. And a huge amount of energy and investment goes to waste. Avoidance (of conflict) is actually preparation,” she said.