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Indigenous leadership and opportunities in the net zero transition

Over 1,000 delegates from Indigenous nations, industry and government gather in Vancouver for a first-of-its-kind Indigenous net zero policy conference.

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The Canadian-based First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC) and the U.S.-based First Peoples Worldwide hosted 1,000 delegates representing Indigenous nations, industry, and government at a first-of-its-kind Indigenous-led net zero policy conference at the Westin Bayshore Hotel on April 25 – 262022.

The purpose of the conference was to hold discussions between Indigenous clean energy leaders from the U.S. and Canada with industry, investors, and government officials in the context of a North American transition to net zero. Questions were focused on how the public policy and investment decisions need to achieve net zero by 2050 will impact on Indigenous interests and rights and where Indigenous voices need to be included in those discussions.

The transition to net zero represents a $6 trillion dollar opportunity. This includes a 14-fold increase in critical mineral production — all this coming from Indigenous lands. The conference…discussions about how we can align the policy and investment decisions on net zero with the principles of free, prior, and informed consent and how we are to meaningfully include Indigenous people as partners and equity owners in net zero projects” – stated Chief Sharleen Gale, chair of FNMPC.

Most proposed solutions for achieving net zero by 2050 — be it clean power stations, carbon capture and storage facilities, or new mines for transition minerals — rely on using Indigenous lands and resources. Therefore, these solutions need to be either Indigenous-led or have strong Indigenous partnership to ensure respect for Indigenous lands, cultures, and societies along with our shared environment,” said Kate R. Finn, executive director, First Peoples Worldwide. 

Delegates and speakers at the conference included:

  • Jennifer Granholm, United State Secretary of Energy,
  • Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources Canada,
  • Brett Isaac, Chairman of Navajo Power,
  • Dave Archambault II, Tokala Ohitika — Brave Fox, 45th Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,
  • Wahleah Johns, Director, Office of Indian Energy — US Department of Energy,
  • Ivan Vella, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Aluminum,
  • Mark Cutifani, CEO, Anglo American,
  • Mark Poweska, CEO, Hydro One Networks Inc, and
  • Joe Hanita, CFO, Te Rau Māhorahora (Māori).