The Minister for Environment and Water, Hon Tanya Plibersek, recently and unexpectedly announced the Australian Government's intention to create a National Biodiversity Market, that will mirror the Emissions Reduction Fund which supports Australia's carbon market.
A very short consultation period was announced by the Minister, ending on 16 September.
The Indigenous Carbon Industry Network welcomes the introduction of a National Biodiversity Market and the opportunity this presents to place an economic value on good land and sea management practices in a fair and accessible way.
However, member organisations are concerned that the design process is far too rushed to properly consider how it can be structured to support Indigenous people to undertake critical land and sea management work on their country, across very remote and vast landscapes.
The recent State of the Environment Report highlighted that Indigenous knowledge and connections to Country are vital for sustainability and healing Australia. This new National Biodiversity Market, if properly designed to be inclusive of Indigenous land and sea management, offers an opportunity to better value this.
Last week ICIN members wrote to Minister Tanya Plibersek to seek more time for proper consultation including consideration of all of important issues impacting the Indigenous carbon industry and to ensure that a National Biodiversity Market is accessible to Indigenous people, stating:
The Indigenous Carbon Industry Network (ICIN) is the peak industry body representing Indigenous owned and operated carbon projects across Australia. Our members include 23 Indigenous organisations that operate across Australia to develop and deliver carbon projects through the Emissions Reduction Fund, mainly through savanna fire management, but also inclusive of any carbon method.
Our member organisations are supporting hundreds of Aboriginal people to undertake critical land and sea management work on their country, across very remote and vast landscapes. Their work is globally significant, founded on many thousands of years of traditional knowledge and practice and
providing additional opportunities to strengthen connections to country, community, language and culture. Over the past 15 years, member organisations have successfully led and established an Indigenous-owned industry that abates over 1.2 million tonnes of emissions each year, producing
Australian Carbon Credit Units valued at around $53 million a year.
Our member organisations have significant experience in the carbon market, both good and bad, and would like to be in a position to properly inform the framework and conditions of the proposed National Biodiversity Market based on this experience.
The letter goes on to identify some of the key issues of concern ICIN members have identified that will need to be considered by Indigenous organisations and governments as part of this proposal, including, but are not limited to:
- Recognition of Indigenous rights and interests in biodiversity.
- Recognition of the biocultural value of biodiversity to Indigenous people.
- Recognition of the right of Indigenous groups to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
- Potential impacts on the carbon market and in particular the Indigenous carbon industry, including how the scheme will potentially affect value of current carbon projects.
- What support will be provided to Indigenous organisations and Indigenous people considering entering the biodiversity market.
- How will biodiversity credits recognise ongoing maintenance of relatively intact areas of country, as well as restoring cleared or severely degraded country.
- How will a biodiversity market ensure that Indigenous organisations have a voice in the development and use of offsets, given that biodiversity credits often require use, or access to, recognised Indigenous-held lands; including how the scheme will apply to pastoral leases with co-existing native title rights and interests.
- How will climate change impacts will be taken into consideration given these are likely to impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disproportionately.
- How lessons from use and commercialisation of biological resources (such as the bush foods and pharmaceutical industries) might be reflected in the proposed scheme.
ICIN is seeking an extension of the consultation period informing design of the market from 2 weeks to 8 weeks, and direct consultation with the Indigenous carbon industry, given that the National Biodiversity Market is intended to mirror the Emissions Reduction Fund, which supports Australia's carbon market.
For further information about the proposed National Biodiversity Market and to have your say, please see here