Divest, Invest, Protect
Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation to Norway and Switzerland members outside of Norges Bank before meeting with Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, Spring 2017. Left to right: Wasté Win Young, Dr. Sarah Jumping Eagle, Michelle Cook, Autumn Chacon, Tara Houska and Osprey Orielle Lake.
Education, advocacy and action for divestment of financing from the companies and institutions funding fossil fuel extraction and the associated infrastructure projects around the world is an effective, tangible, and ever-strengthening strategy for resistance and Earth and community protection being used by people’s movements worldwide.
In the context of the global Fossil Fuel Divestment movement, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network is working to ensure that Indigenous and frontline women have the opportunity to speak for themselves directly to the institutions, governments and policy makers that are impacting their communities and territories. We have found this to be not only an effective strategy for gaining advocacy results, but also a vital and empowering process for women as they reclaim spaces to seek justice and speak truth to power.
Given the severity of the climate crisis and existential threat to all of humanity, we are also highlighting with significance and respect that 80% of biodiversity remaining on earth is in Indigenous lands and territories. Thus respecting Indigenous knowledge and life-ways and Indigenous rights, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent is not only morally the right thing to do, but also paramount to any effective sustainability strategy.
WECAN is also advocating for investment in a just transition to renewable energy. In light of the intensifying climate crisis, dependency on oil and oil extraction is a bad investment; financial institutions have an opportunity to invest in renewable energy, which has become increasingly cost effective and necessary as climate change escalates. This does not mean stopping using all fossil fuels overnight. Governments and companies should immediately conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it. Investment in sustainable technology now has a place in the emerging low carbon economy and there is no time to lose in making the transition.
The DIVEST, INVEST, PROTECT campaign is a critical intersectional indigenous-led international divestment campaign. WECAN is very honored to be collaborating with Michelle Cook, Diné (Navajo) human rights lawyer on this important work.
Divest, Invest, Protect – Aims and Goals:
- Protect the climate and defend human, Indigenous and nature rights through education, advocacy and action that challenges financial institutions and injustices.
- Partner with grassroots, frontline and Indigenous women leaders for strategic campaigns and targeted delegations to call for divestment and stop pipelines, fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction at the source.
- Defend Indigenous and nature rights, and Indigenous human rights including, Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
- Stand up for and with Water Protectors and defenders of the land.
- Advocate for investment in sustainable renewable energy and new banking structures.
- Highlight the power, and role of women protecting water, land, climate and communities.
- Create spaces for dialogue regarding banks and governments and human rights and Indigenous rights.
- Give voice to the impacts of extractive industries on women and children.
Divest, Invest, Protect - Calls to Action:
- Divestment and accountability to human rights, Indigenous rights, nature rights, women’s rights.
- Investment in a just transition to renewable energy.
- Implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Affirm of the rights of nature as stated in the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
- Strengthen the protection of Indigenous lands, territories, and natural resources.
- Call for banks and Nation States to respect human rights, inherent tribal sovereign rights, and Indigenous treaty rights.
Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegations
Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation to Norway and Switzerland, Spring 2017
WECAN is honored to have been asked to organize and facilitate a series of Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations to Europe, comprised of frontline Indigenous women leaders from across the US who have been deeply engaged in the Standing Rock resistance effort and other movements to stop fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure developments and threats to Indigenous rights, sovereignty, lands and life ways.
The goal of the Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 delegations was to provide a platform for the women to meet face-to-face with representatives of European financial institutions to expose injustices and share with these entities - and the public, press and government representatives - how their fossil fuel investments violate human rights and Indigenous rights as well as contribute to climate disruption, ultimately seeking to put public pressure on financial institutions to divest immediately.
Norway, Switzerland and Germany have been the focus of delegations, due to the fact that these countries are home to some of the largest institutions financing extraction across North America and around the world.
During the Spring 2017 delegation, the women leaders engaged in many high level meetings, including with the Norwegian Oil Fund, DNB (the Bank of Norway), the Norwegian Parliament, Credit Suisse Bank, UBS and members of the press on national television, radio and print media. In Norway, the advocacy of the Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation was essential in pushing DNB bank to sell their $331 million dollar credit line to DAPL, following strong advocacy efforts from many groups, and an independent investigation in which DNB affirmed the violation of Indigenous rights and failure to properly consult the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The Delegation was covered by international news outlets and on national televsion and radio in each country, helping to raise awareness and to bring more pressure to financial institutions to divest. The Delegation also met with Sami leaders and local groups for furhter solidarity and movement building.
Learn more about the experiences and successes of the Spring Delegation via EcoWatch -
Delegates of the first Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation to Norway and Switzerland included Dr. Sarah Jumping Eagle (Oglala Lakota and Mdewakantonwan Dakota living and working on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation); Wasté Win Young (Ihunktowanna/Hunkpapa of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer); Tara Houska (Anishinaabe, tribal attorney, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders); Autumn Chacon (Diné/Navajo writer and performance artist); and Michelle Cook (Diné/Navajo, human rights lawyer and a founding member of the of the Water Protector Legal Collective at Standing Rock).
Over two weeks in early October 2017, a second delegation traveled to Germany, Switzerland and Norway to follow up on previous advocacy efforts, and participate in a variety of strategic platforms, high-level bank and government meetings, public events and press conferences during which they will share their experiences and calls to action, with a focus on continued forward motion in advocacy for fossil fuel divestment and investment in a clean energy future that respects the web of life and protects the climate.
WECAN organized ten high-level meetings, including with Norwegian Parliamentarians, DNB, Council on Ethics to the Norwegian Oil Fund, UBS, Credit Suisse, Zurich Insurance, Swiss Re Insurance, BayernLB, Allianz, Deutsche Bank and others. We emphasized that Indigenous people are demanding their rights as outlined in international law and calling for divestment through either corporate level or project level finance to stop unwanted fossil fuel development in their territories.
We organized two strategy sessions with local groups in Switzerland and Germany, held three public events, filmed videos and had over 15 media responses nationally and internationally.
The Delegation has been invited back by Norwegian Parliamentarians to support further efforts to include Indigenous rights in the guidelines of the Norwegian Pension Fund. Reuters reported on our divestment meeting held on October 3rd, which was published in a New York Times article, due to the fact that the Norwegian Council on Ethics stated that it is now reviewing allegations that Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the pipeline company behind Dakota Access Pipeline and many others, may be breaching the fund’s investment guidelines related to the environment, human rights and other issues. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund holds over $248 million of ETP corporate bonds as of the end of 2016. The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation met with the Council on Ethics on October 3rd (see link below) - adding key pressure on the institution to continue to evaluate its ties to ETP and upcoming fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure across Indigenous territories. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-accord-women/gender-plan-seeks-to-put-women-in-driving-seat-of-climate-fight-idUSKBN1DG13Z
In more recent news, on November 21, 2017 the executives of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund recommended to the Norwegian Parliament that all gas and oil investments be removed from the fund.
Fall delegation members included - LaDonna BraveBull Allard (Lakota historian, member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and founder/landowner of Sacred Stone Camp); Tara Houska (Anishinaabe, tribal attorney, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders); Michelle Cook (Diné/Navajo, human rights lawyer and a founding member of the of the Water Protector Legal Collective at Standing Rock); and Jackie Fielder (Mnicoujou Lakota and Mandan-Hidatsa, Campaign Coordinator of Lakota People's Law Project and organizer with Mazaska Talks), alongside Osprey Orielle Lake (WECAN Executive Director).
The Delegates have been deeply engaged in the Standing Rock resistance effort, actions to stop Line 3 and Keystone XL, and/or as a part of other advocacy and resistance struggles to stop fossil fuel infrastructure developments and threats to Indigenous rights, sovereignty, lands and life-ways in their homelands. Please click here to provide urgently need donations in support of delegations, and ongoing efforts.
#EquatorBanks Act Initiative
WECAN International is a partner in the #EquatorBanksAct campaign, launched in August 2017 by a global coalition of environmental and Indigenous leaders to demand that the Equator Principles Association take immediate action to revise their guidelines - under which 91 of the world’s largest and most prominent banks continue to violate Indigenous rights, and ignore basic standards of environmental sustainability and the need to address the urgency of climate change.
The Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States, the Belo Monte mega-dam in Brazil, and the Agua Zarca hydro project in Honduras, which murdered Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was seeking to prevent, are but three examples of projects financed by banks under the Equator Principles.
As is becoming increasingly clear - divestment WORKS - and if we stand together, we do have the collective power to demand accountability from the institutions financing pipelines and other extractive projects. The Equator Principles Association will be meeting in Brazil this October to evaluate their work - and we will take a stand to meet them with diverse, bold voices exposing injustice and demanding action and accountability now.
Learn more and SIGN and SHARE the petition here today - www.equatorbanksact.org
Other Solidarity Actions With Our Allies
Following the CitiBank Divest action in NYC - Indigenous organizers including Kandi Mossett, Casey Camp Horinek, and Aru Apaza stand together with allies
In April 2017 during the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, WECAN was honored to stand with our allies during an Indigenous-led direct action at the Citi Bank shareholders meeting in New York City. WECAN took part in the rally outside - while Casey Camp Horinek (Ponca Nation Council-Woman and WECAN Advisory Council Member) and Kandi Mossett (Indigenous Environmental Network) took part in the shareholders meeting and raised powerful calls for defunding of the fossil fuel projects violating Indigenous rights, human rights and rights of Mother Earth across the US and around the world.
our growing network of women for climate justice and solutions.