Skip navigation

Final Statement from the 2023 National Indigenous Carbon Forum

Opening Statement

“We are leading the way, it makes me really proud. It has given me strength to keep moving forward. This tool we have is knowledge that’s been passed down over thousands of years. Our young ones are now following in our footsteps. It is not for us, it’s for our children. We want our children to become professionals. I’m proud to see this program succeeding. We have to be clear about how we manage our country, fire is our tool, and now we’ve made it into something that supports us to make a living.”
Dean Yibarbuk (Gurrgoni), Co-Chair ICIN


From 16-17 May, over 100 representatives of Indigenous groups across Australia met online to discuss issues critical to them from their experience in the carbon industry. This included members of the ICIN (Indigenous groups who own carbon projects) as well as representatives from Indigenous groups who have had mixed experiences with the carbon industry. The below statement was developed in concert with attendees and ICIN members during the forum, and reviewed and approved in writing via email.

Key Statement from Attendees at the 2023 National Indigenous Carbon Foru

  1. We are driven by a strong commitment to care for our country, respect for country and culture and support self-determination of our communities.

  2. This is our space, an Indigenous-led space. It is vital to ensure that the integrity of projects held by First Nations people is maintained. Indigenous-owned carbon projects are unique, and special.

  3. The Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Native Title holders for a carbon project is required by law. Gaining consent from Traditional Owners for a corporate carbon project is not a valid reason to promote Indigenous values of a project - and therefore gain a premium on the market. Protecting our Indigenous-owned brand is really important. We are concerned by our experience that carbon projects that are not Indigenous-owned are able to attract the ‘Indigenous’ premium price in the market, but yet the benefits are not awarded to us as Traditional Owners.

  4. We want to be properly informed about developments that impact on our country.

  5. We seek respectful partnerships and have a lot of expertise built upon thousands of years of traditional knowledge and practice. We are making a space for government to sit at our table, not the other way around.

  6. Carbon method design must value Indigenous IP and be Indigenous-led. Indigenous land managers are already working hard to manage their country and are experts in land and sea management informed by many thousands of generations of practice.

  7. As Traditional Custodians of our lands, we assert our rights, recognised in the UNDRIP, to the carbon that is stored through healing our country from the damage done by colonisation.

  8. Traditional rights in and obligations to country have been passed down and followed for thousands of years. These rights and obligations are based in fundamental principles centred on connection to country, respect, and consent from the right people for country. Unfortunately non-Indigenous land tenure systems can be complex and time consuming to navigate. It is the responsibility of carbon project developers to make sure they take the time to understand who speaks for Country and who has a right to consent to carbon projects.

  9. Although the carbon economy is still in its formative years, for too long, third parties have exploited the rights of Indigenous people to carbon. It is time to flip this narrative and reframe who benefits from this industry. Traditional Owners must be respected as equal partners, and not simply a gateway or ‘tick and flick’ to access and exploit our lands for the commercial gain of others.

  10. Outside of the 35 Indigenous-owned carbon projects, the carbon industry has become a fast paced, highly commercialised space that is increasingly dominated by large corporates with little to no connection to us or our lands.

  11. Engagement with us about emerging biodiversity markets has to be meaningful if it is to create good outcomes for country.

  12. There is a strong need to support the ongoing role of ICIN as it is providing an important and vital service facilitating Indigenous leadership in this space and informing Indigenous groups about the carbon industry.

Learn more about the 2023 NICF here. 

Share Tweet