Wisdom from Elders & Teachers: Grounded Energy

 

New approaches to communities, communication and consultation through the lens of geothermal energy development on the traditional lands of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

 

Through innovative communication and consultation processes co-developed with Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, this research aims to inform how we can sustainably develop renewable resources in a way that respects Indigenous rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). As co-creators of knowledge in this project, Indigenous community members and university-based researchers will increase their mutual capacity for energy research and governance.

Geothermal energy has the potential to be the next transformative technology to boost Canada’s green energy sector. Given that many potential geothermal sites are on Indigenous traditional lands, meaningful engagement and consultation with Indigenous communities will be key to successfully developing geothermal energy projects and policy. Further Article 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) emphasizes consultation and cooperation “in good faith with the indigenous peoples… in order to obtain free, prior and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources”.

This research aims to co-investigate and co-develop a novel, inclusive community engagement process focusing on risk communication and management as well as scientific communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, industrial developers and the government. The research will enhance how community engagement and consultation are conducted prior to and during the development, construction and operation of a renewable energy project and is built on the principles found in OCAP® (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession).

Overall, this research program aims to inform and develop equitable community engagement processes and communication frameworks for approaching renewable energy development responsibly and sustainably, while respecting Indigenous rights to FPIC. The program also aims to produce academic exchanges and academic publications, to inform policy options for geothermal energy regulation in Alberta, and to train graduate students in these emerging areas of critical importance. Through this novel approach to communication and consultation with Indigenous communities, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and University of Alberta will co-develop an innovative communication framework for community engagement to increase sustainable energy development.

 

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