An Indigenous ‘Right Way’ Environmental, Social and Cultural Core-Benefits Verification Standard

  • Lisa McMurrayEmail author
  • Rowan Foley
  • Carl O’Sullivan
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


There is a lot of pressure on Indigenous people to conform, to think and act like Europeans. There is an unspoken belief that it would be much easier for all concerned to simply use European models and accepted western ways of doing things. Developing a new standard for the cultural, social and environmental core benefits of carbon projects that uses the Indigenous-to-Indigenous way of working has not been easy. It has involved a lot of thinking, reflection and discussion with many wonderful Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It also involved more formal consultation and peer review processes as well as presentations at industry forums and community meetings. Ultimately, we do not see a role for non-Aboriginal people in leading this process nor are we ‘massaging’ a western monitoring and evaluation (M&E) model into an Aboriginal context. We can’t tweak existing standards whose soul is fundamentally different. There is, however, a support role for non-Aboriginal people which affords for a generosity of spirit to not dominate or dismiss Indigenous ways of working. The concept of Indigenous people working with Indigenous people using Indigenous expertise to verify core-benefits has been seen by some as an inferior process, a bit soft perhaps, lacking rigour even. The idea that Indigenous people have something to offer challenges the dominate neo-colonial concepts of dependence and is a form of environmental racism that needs to be called out. We are holding fast in our belief that in order to be part of the solution and to recognise Indigenous people’s expertise we cannot build the capacity of NGOs, government agencies and M&E specialists. We are fully aware this approach can be disarming because it requires ‘white experts’ to move aside. There are many intelligent Indigenous people with expertise that did not receive a formal education. On a personal level I have drawn inspiration for this work through my mother, a strong spiritual Badtjala (Butchulla) woman. As a child she was one of the ‘dump house mob’ spending four years of her childhood growing up on a rubbish dump, left school by grade 7, lost all her teeth by 16 years and started work as a domestic servant. Despite all these difficulties she raised four children all going to University, negotiated the first hand back of land on K’gari (Fraser Island) from the infamously conservative Joh Bjelke-Petersen Queensland Government and was instrumental in launching our successful Native Title claim. I have also drawn inspiration from Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Vincent Lingiari, Tony Tjamawa and Eddie Mabo. All of whom challenged the status quo for the benefit of Indigenous people. I would like to thank the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation team and Caritas Australia for their ideas, dedication and patience. I would also like to thank the Queensland Government for funding this innovative work.


Indigenous Carbon farming Core-benefits Verification Self-determination 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aboriginal CarbonMarrickvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Aboriginal Carbon FundAlice SpringsAustralia
  3. 3.Carl O’SullivanGosfordAustralia

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