Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation to Norway and Switzerland 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, with Delegate organizer, Osprey Orielle Lake.
Education, advocacy and action for divestment and defunding 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.
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, International (WECAN) is dedicated to working with a variety of strategies and partnerships as part of the global Fossil Fuel Divestment movement, with a focus on highlighting the power and role of women protecting water, land, climate and communities, as we create opportunities for advocacy, action and dialogue with financial institutions, insurance companies and governments.
With other global women leaders, we are organizing for strategic campaigns and targeted delegations to call for divestment; to stop pipelines, fossil fuel infrastructure, and extraction at the source; and to give voice to the impacts of extractive industries on women and children.
Particularly, it is WECAN's aim to ensure that Indigenous, grassroots and frontline women have the opportunity to speak for themselves directly to the financial institutions, insurance companies, governments, policy makers and other institutions 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 powerful 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. Respecting Indigenous knowledge, ways of life, and Indigenous rights, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent and the right to say no to continued extraction, is thus not only the morally right thing to do, but also paramount to any effective sustainability strategy.
Indigenous women leaders from across the US take action outside the White House to #KeepItInTheGround, also pictured, WECAN Executive Director - Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International
In light of the intensifying climate crisis, dependency on fossil fuels and their extraction is a bad investment, and financial institutions have an opportunity to invest in renewable, regenerative energy, which has become increasingly cost effective and necessary as climate change escalates. Governments and companies should immediately conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry; ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it; and meet the needs and demands of frontline communities in the transition. 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.
Specifically, WECAN International is advocating for investment in a just transition to a democratized, decentralized, clean energy future with the voices of frontline communities, Indigenous peoples, and women highlighted in all decision-making in this transition. This is what is best for all of our communities, and this is a necessity in the fight for a livable world for future generations.
It is becoming increasingly clear that divestment is having an impact - and that if we stand together, we do indeed have the collective power to demand accountability from the institutions financing pipelines and fossil fuel extraction projects, and instead build an Earth-centered, just transition to renewable energy for all.
At the same time that WECAN engages in dismantling current detrimental economic systems in our divestment work, it is equally important to invest in new economic models that serve people and planet. Regenerative economics, or an Earth Community Economy, is required at this time.
Around the world, we are seeing the emergence of creative alternatives to destructive economic paradigms. The good news is that what is healthy for an ecosystem is also good for people: key ingredients are community-led solutions, localization and regionalism. The best economic and environmentally sound solutions are place-based, diverse according to region, and are responsive to local communities and social needs. Instead of fearing a transition to a new Earth Community Economy, we can support and enjoy local organic food, vibrant local businesses, a healthy local economy, jobs with justice and the development of clean decentralized, democratized energy.
There are diverse areas of our work that comprise this comprehensive program: Women for Forests and Earth Community Economy; Rights of Nature and Earth Community Economy; WECAN Indigenous Women-Led Food and Economic Security Program; and Global Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal.
Learn more about several of our WECAN Divestment advocacy and action programs below - which have lead to significant divestments, policy changes, investigations and international media visibility.
Engagements and Workshops with Financial Institutions
In March 2021, WECAN co-organized and facilitated several high-level workshops for international financial institutions that focused on policies and practices regarding Indigenous rights, deforestation, fossil fuel extraction, and how financial institutions can align with the Paris Climate Agreement and, in fact, exceed it (with the critical understanding that the Paris Agreement is fully insufficient to meet the scale of the crisis and does not address climate justice).
The workshop engagements offered valuable insights on the significant impact of extractive industries on local and Indigenous communities. Several key issues discussed included the links between financing for deforestation-risk commodities and climate change, the impact of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure in Indigenous communities, the operationalization of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the impacts on women and girls in extraction zones, and how sustainability and human rights policies are necessary to meet and exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Indigenous women leaders and partners met with BlackRock representatives, as part of two workshops organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), to present information on aligning with the Paris Climate Agreement and addressing human and Indigenous rights issues and policies. In December 2020, BlackRock published a report outlining its new guiding expectations for company engagement in 2021, including several notable changes to its policies on environmental and social factors. The report states a strategy that includes aligning BlackRock investments and financing with the goals and targets set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement. Learn more in our press release here.
Additionally, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), BankTrack, and other civil society partners hosted a series of workshops in March 2021 for Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs), intended to provide a round table educational dialogue on how financial institutions can become better aligned with the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
We worked with several partners and are honored that the second of three workshops, focused on Indigenous rights, were Indigenous women-led with the leadership of Divest, Invest, Protect and the Indigenous Human Rights Defenders and Corporate Accountability Program (IHRDCAP) currently housed at the University of Arizona School of Law, and WECAN.
The EPFIs are a group of 116 international financial institutions that have adopted the Equator Principles (EP), a risk management framework used for “determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects and is primarily intended to provide a minimum standard for due diligence and monitoring to support responsible risk decision-making.” These workshops were designed to create open discussion to further progress useful knowledge exchange, enabling civil society organizations to articulate their expectations from EPFIs based on the Equator Principles. The workshops also provided EPFIs the opportunity to share their experiences and points of view.
We look forward to further engagement with financial institutions in the future, advocating for Indigenous rights, human rights, and the protection of nature.
Stop The Money Pipeline Campaign
The Stop The Money Pipeline Campaign is part of WECAN's "Divestment and Just Transition" programming. In light of the intensifying climate crisis, dependency on fossil fuels and their extraction is a bad investment, and financial institutions have an opportunity to invest in renewable, regenerative energy, which has become increasingly cost effective and necessary as the climate crisis escalates. We are organizing for strategic campaigns and targeted delegations to call for divestment; to stop pipelines, fossil fuel infrastructure, and extraction at the source; and to invest instead in an Earth-centered, just transition to renewable, regenerative energy for all.
Throughout the year we will join our colleagues, including 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, Oil Change International, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth U.S., and many others to target JP Morgan Chase, BlackRock, and Liberty Mutual, the top funders of the climate crisis, and demand they divest from the fossil fuel industry. Stopping this money pipeline is one of the most important ways we can quickly address the climate emergency. Thank you to all our colleagues who have been working tirelessly to challenge these corporations to divest, and please join us!
Shutting Down Chase Bank in Washington D.C.
On January 10, WECAN joined dozens of protesters to occupy and shut down a Chase Bank branch for over two hours in Washington D.C. to kick off the new "Stop The Money Pipeline" campaign. As part of the organizing coalition, we are demanding that banks, asset managers and insurance companies stop funding, insuring and investing in climate destruction!
Please watch a video of the action down below.
JP Morgan Chase is the leading funder of fossil fuels, sourcing billions to the fossil fuel industry in its quest to drill oceans, frack our land and build more pipelines. Held in parallel to Fire Drill Fridays with Jane Fonda, we were in Washington D.C. calling for JP Morgan Chase to divest from dirty fossil fuels. We cannot let Chase and so many other financial institutions continue to fund global fossil fuel extraction, deforestation, disrespect for Indigenous rights, and climate catastrophe.
11 dedicated activists were arrested at the Chase Bank shutdown, joining the nearly 150 people who were arrested on Capitol Hill during Fire Drill Friday. See more photos from the Stop The Money Pipeline action on Facebook!
Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director demands financial institutions stop funding climate chaos during the occupation of a Chase Bank branch in Washington D.C. on January 10 in parallel to Jane Fonda's Fire Drill Fridays. Photo via Ken Cedeno/Greenpeace
Police put up a makeshift "closed" sign after dozens of protestors shut down a Chase Bank branch in Washington D.C. Photo via Aishah Nyeta Brown/WECAN International
Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations
The Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegations is a partnership between the Divest Invest Protect program (DIP) and the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International. Michelle Cook, Dine' (Navajo) human rights lawyer and Founder of DIP and Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder of WECAN International, are the Co-Directors of the Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegations.
The central goal of the Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations, organized by WECAN International with the leadership of Indigenous women and their directives, is to provide a platform for Indigenous women leaders to meet face-to-face with representatives of European and U.S. financial institutions, insurance companies, and credit-rating agencies, to expose injustices, and directly share with these entities - and the public, press, and government representatives - exactly how their fossil fuel investments violate human rights and Indigenous rights, while also driving climate disruption. Ultimately, these Delegations and future Delegations seek to put pressure on institutions to divest funds from fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure immediately, as well as to systematically change their policies regarding Indigenous and human rights and the climate crisis.
Norway, Switzerland, and Germany have been key focus areas 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. Delegations have also traveled to Washington D.C. and New York City in the U.S. for key meetings, events, and actions.
The program has organized and facilitated six delegations of Indigenous women leaders and has engaged over a dozen national and international banks and financial institutions in five countries, as well as participating in consultations with various banks to improve their ESG guidelines and implementation processes, including participation in in-person meetings and the revision process of the Equator Principles Association guidelines, which involves over 90 banks globally. The program also filed a “Specific Instance” with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regarding Credit Suisse and adverse impacts to Indigenous peoples and the environment.
The educational component of this program involves 1) extensive research and monitoring of financial institutions 2) hosting educational webinars for investors and 3) organizing and facilitating strategy meetings and webinars for Indigenous women to gain knowledge about financial operations and instruments; divestment advocacy; and the companies, banks, and actors impacting their lands and rights.
Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation representatives and allies outside of Credit Suisse on Indigenous People's Day, following a delegation meeting with the bank - Photo via WECAN International
Tara Houska and Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle on national television in Norway speaking out for divestment - Photo via WECAN International
Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation Confronts Credit Suisse at Shareholder Meeting
The Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation on 55 Wall Street, the original New York Stock Exchange, making the historical connections between patriarchy, colonization and capitalism - Photo via Teena Pugliese
Standing for fossil fuel divestment at the Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco. WECAN Executive Director speaking at the action - Photos via Jane Richey
Standing for fossil fuel divestment at the Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco. WECAN Executive Director speaking at the action - Photos via Jane Richey
#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. The Equator Principles Association met in Brazil in October 2017 to evaluate their work, and agreed to commit to revising their Equator Principles guidelines, as demanded by social movement leaders.
In 2018, WECAN International and coalition members participated in a meeting with Equator Principles members in Washington, D.C. to advise on the revision process. WECAN and partners will continue to monitor and engage in the progress and take a stand for action and accountability.
In July 2019, an Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation and allies led by Divest Invest Protect and the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International traveled to Toronto, Canada to meet with the Equator Principles Association or 'EP Banks' for an external consultation process in regards to revising the Equator Principles (EP). During the external consultation, the Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation and allies were committed to ensuring women's voices were heard by advocating for stronger revisions that uphold Free, Prior, and Informed Consent; respect Indigenous rights and women's rights; protect the global climate; and include the voices of those most impacted by the financing decisions of EP banks.
Despite the calls for banks to be accountable to the people and the planet, the Equator Principles failed to act upon the call for action and incorporate the counsel of those most impacted by their financial decision making. In Autumn 2019, the EP Banks released the final version of the new Equator Principles which, are inadequate in upholding or respecting Indigenous or human rights, specifically Indigenous peoples right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent as laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The new EP’s also fail in limiting finance for projects that severely contribute to climate disaster. As we plunge further into climate chaos, we need financial institutions to act alongside millions who are calling for an end to business as usual.
While we are deeply disappointed by the EP Banks failure to make strong commitments we will continue to advocate in the ‘Equator Banks, Act!’ campaign, which has vowed to work together to resist the financing by Equator Banks of all new fossil fuel projects and all projects that impact Indigenous peoples’ rights and territories. To see our collective response to the new Equator Principles, please see the press release.
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network has been involved ongoingly since the organization's inception in non-violent direct action and advocacy to oppose pipeline projects such as Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines, with an increased focus in divestment as a strategy since 2016.
At this time, WECAN International is engaged in various collaborative campaigns and actions demanding divestment from Keystone XL, Line 3, Bayou Bridge, and other dangerous fossil fuel projects. Below are a few selected actions.
We Seek Commitments, Not Just More Principles
WECAN International with allies, protesting outside the Public Launch of the Principles for Responsible Banking on September 23, 2019 in New York City - Photo via WECAN International/Katherine Quaid
Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN International Executive Director preparing to advocate during Public Launch of the Principles for Responsible Banking on September 23, 2019 in New York City- Photo via WECAN International
In September 2019, The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) released the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRBs), a set of principles to engage financial stakeholders in the development of sustainable economies. WECAN International
welcomes (but with caution) the effort of the United Nations Environmental Programme - Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) to engage financial stakeholders in the development of sustainable economies through the release of The Principles for Responsible Banking.
WECAN International strongly encourages banks to take action in addressing the social and environmental impacts of their financial decision-making, yet we hold significant concerns around the implementation of the PRB, specifically as it relates to accountability and implementation, upholding Indigenous and human rights, and meeting the urgency of the climate crisis. Read WECAN International's statement for our full analysis.
WECAN International also signed on to a Civil Society Statement on the new Principles for Responsible Banking - Read the full letter here. We joined our co-signatories at the public launch of The Principles, held during the United Nations General Assembly to hear from Signatory Banks about their goals and how they plan to implement The Principles, and what these developments will mean for frontline communities and civil society.
Prior to the release of the PRBs, WECAN International joined a civil society submission which was coordinated by BankTrack, 350.org, Amazon Watch,, Amazon Watch, Greenpeace International, Indigenous Environmental Network, Inclusive Development International, Fair Finance Guide International, Global Witness, Future in our Hands, International Rivers and Rainforest Action Network, amongst others. The submission welcomed the PRBs but noted that requirements contained in the draft PRBs were wholly inadequate for them to be an effective and credible response from the banking sector to today’s massive challenges on poverty, wildlife loss, climate breakdown and human and Indigenous rights violations globally. You can read the full submission here.
WECAN International continues to engage in a collective campaign to influence this process.
Tell the World Bank: Stop Financing Fossil Fuels
WECAN International joined The Big Shift Global, SustainUs, Oil Change International, Urgewald and other allies at the "Stop Financing Fossil Fuels" rally outside the World Bank 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. , where we called for the World Bank to divest from fossil fuels, and uphold Indigenous and human rights, including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
During the action, organizers and speakers advocated for divestment and shared stories of the impacts of the World Banks disastrous financial investments. Valarie Proctor (Piscataway Conoy), and Katherine Quaid (Cayuse/Nez Perce/Paiute), WECAN Communications Coordinator, opened the rally advocating for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Watch the full live stream here, to hear from all the speakers at the action.
Instead of helping countries make the transition out of fossil fuels, the WBG, from 2014 to 2018 alone, has provided over $12 billion in project finance for 88 fossil fuel projects in 38 countries. Find more information, in our joint press release here.
Gallery of photos from the "Stop Financing Fossil Fuels Now" Rally outside the World Bank 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. - Photos via WECAN International/Valarie Proctor/Katherine Quaid
The World Bank’s subsidizing of fossil fuels is fanning the flames of the climate emergency and must stop. A coalition of civil society organizations, including WECAN International, demand World Bank managers follow the recommendations set out below by civil society and informed by the latest science:
End fossil fuel project funding by the close of 2020;
Phase out lending for all fossil fuels after 2020, including lending for ‘associated facilities’ for fossil fuel projects;
Require the private sector arm of the Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its financial intermediaries to divest from all fossil fuels, not just coal;
Devote at least 40% of finance to climate by 2020;
Adhere to the UN Declaration on Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, specifically pertaining to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
Furthermore, the World Bank should increase its investments in renewable energy, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where access to electricity and clean cooking remains low. To read the full letter to the World Bank, signed by over 100 civil society organizations, please click the button below.
Alaska Permanent Fund Corpration
Divest Action in Juneau, Alaska
WECAN International was honored to join 350Juneau, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, and other allies at the "Stand Strong for Climate" rally on September 10th, where we called for the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) and United States member, the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, to divest from fossil fuels, following in the footsteps of member countries like New Zealand and Ireland that are working to divest.
Facebook Live-stream of the "Stand Strong fo Climate" rally in Juneau, Alaska on September 10, 2019.
During the action, organizers also urged IFSWF, a consortium of 30 global sovereign wealth funds, to review their guiding document, the Santiago Principles (SP), to better assess both social and ecological risks of investments—particularly in the case of investments related to extractive industries. Please see our full letter to IFSWF here.
The rally co-organized by 350Juneau and WECAN International was held in Juneau, Alaska in parallel to the annual meeting of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF).
WECAN International will continue to pursue a meeting with the IFSWF.
Shutting Down Wells Fargo in San Francisco
WECAN International was honored to join Idle No More SF Bay, 350 Silicon Valley, and other allies to shut down the Wells Fargo Bank at their Headquarters in San Francisco 2019.
We joined organizations and individuals for the culmination of the 'March for Fossil Fuel Freedom', a 34-mile walk from Palo Alto to San Francisco exposing "Oily Wells" Wells Fargo Bank, as one of the leading financiers of disastrous fossil-fuel industry projects on the planet.
Protectors block the doors of Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco during the 'March for Fossil Fuel Freedom' - Photo via WECAN International
Our demands are clear: Wells Fargo must divest from fossil fuel pipelines and stop funding Line 3.
The bank has policies that state they respect Indigenous rights, yet they continue to violate treaty rights of Indigenous peoples. There must be accountability and justice.
At this urgent time of climate crisis, Wells Fargo needs to conduct a managed decline off of fossil fuels, and instead invest in a renewable, regenerative energy future, for the Earth and all generations.
Thank you to all the organizers and attendees of this action, it is vital that we continue to put pressure on big banks to divest from dirty fossil fuels.
CitiBank Divest Action in New York City
Following a CitiBank Divest action in NYC - Indigenous organizers including
Kandi Mossett, Casey Camp Horinek, and Aru Apaza stand together with allies - Photo via WECAN International
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 team members 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.