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.
To end the era of fossil fuel extraction, one of the leading drivers of the climate crisis, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, International (WECAN) employs a two-pronged approach focused on divestment advocacy and resistance to fossil fuel infrastructure and projects.
WECAN is dedicated to working with a variety of strategies and partnerships as part of the global fossil fuel divestment and resistance movements, with a focus on highlighting the power and role of women protecting water, land, climate and communities, while they resist extractive projects within their communities. We also focus on creating opportunities for advocacy, action and dialogue with financial institutions, insurance companies, and governments.
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.
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, children and communities.
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.
Alongside divestment, we support, organize, and amplify fossil fuel resistance efforts seeking to stop fossil fuel pipelines and infrastructure. Since our founding, WECAN has initiated campaigns and taken action in solidarity with resistance efforts to stop fossil fuel development , such as the Keystone XL , Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines.
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
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.
As part of our commitment to resistance efforts, we work to create opportunities for water protectors and frontline leaders to meet with government officials and offices to discuss the impacts extraction and pipelines have in their communities and territories. It is imperative that governments align their actions with the Paris Agreement and adhere to the 1.5° C guardrail. To do so, policymakers must immediately halt the extraction, expansion, and burning of fossil fuels, and uphold Indigenous and human rights while implementing a Just Transition to a 100% renewable and regenerative economy and social system.
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. By removing support from harmful projects and re-directing resources into climate solutions, financial institutions can be agents of positive change. Investment in sustainable and just 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 and fossil fuel resistance are having an impact - and that if we stand together, we do indeed have the collective power to demand accountability from the governments, financial institutions, and corporations advancing and investing in pipelines and fossil fuel extraction projects, and instead build an Earth-centered, just transition to renewable energy for all.
Learn more about several of our WECAN Divestment and Fossil Fuel Resistance advocacy and action programs below - which have led to significant divestments, policy changes, investigations and international media visibility.
Engagements & Workshops with Financial Institutions
For several years, WECAN has been organizing engagement opportunities with various financial institutions to advocate for a transition off of fossil fuels and policy that reflects human and Indigenous rights frameworks. Most recently, 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. 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. Please learn more about these workshops in our press release here.
We are continuing further engagement with financial institutions in 2022 and beyond as a key strategy for advocating for climate justice, Indigenous rights, human rights, and the protection of nature.
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
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
Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation Confronts Credit Suisse at Shareholder Meeting
Fossil Fuel Resistance Advocacy
Since our founding, WECAN has initiated campaigns on the ground and taken action in solidarity with resistance efforts to stop fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure including the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 Pipelines. Please see below our most current advocacy to directly stop fossil fuel pipelines, expansion, and production. In addition to the following advocacy, we regularly support immediate and urgent fossil fuel resistance efforts across our networks and platforms.
The end of the fossil fuel era is here, and we will continue to stand with frontline leaders in this struggle!
Line 3 Advocacy
At the Indigenous-led Line 3 pipeline resistance in Minnesota, thousands took action in person and digitally to stand with water protectors calling for an end to the tar sands pipeline, for Indigenous rights, and for the protection of sacred wild rice beds and waterways.
The Line 3 tar sands pipeline was built in Minnesota on Indigenous lands without consent from local tribes, public officials, and without full process on necessary permitting. It runs from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the shores of Lake Superior, crossing more than 200 bodies of water and 800 wetlands. Line 3 is projected to release 193 million tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere every single year. That’s as much as the twelve largest power plants in the United States combined.
Water Protectors lead the Stop Line 3 mass action held during the Treaty People's Gathering in Minnesota, June 2021.
Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid/WECAN International
Stop Line 3 signs near the headwaters of the Mississippi River during the Treaty People's Gathering in Minnesota, June 2021.
Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid/WECAN International
Throughout 2021, WECAN was on the ground at Line 3 and participated in digital and in-person actions, facilitated ongoing engagement with the Army Corps of Engineers with Indigenous leaders, wrote articles, organized letter campaigns to the Biden Administration. Please see below some of the highlights from our work to stop Line 3:
WECAN took action at the Treaty Peoples Gathering, a weekend of actions coordinated by frontline organizers in Minnesota. (more details, continue down this page)
WECAN, alongside Indigenous frontline leaders resisting the Line 3 pipeline project in Minnesota, and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), met with offices and agencies of the Biden-Harris Administration, including the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), advocating for immediate action to stop the construction of Line 3 and halt DAPL.
Defund Line 3 Arts Visibility Action Week, see photos and more details here.
WECAN published an article, “Indigenous Women Lead the Movement to Stop Line 3 Pipeline: ‘This is Everything We Have’,” highlighting the voices and leadership of Indigenous women leaders. Read the article here.
Representatives from the Giniw Collective and Honor the Earth, with support from the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), met with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor to share information about escalating concerns of egregious human rights and Indigenous rights violations. Learn more here.
#DefundLine3 Global Day of Action in San Francisco, see photos and more details here.
In October 2021, WECAN co-organized an action with Honor the Earth and Seventh Generation to deliver over 1 million petitions demanding the Biden Administration stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota and conduct a full environmental review. Watch the petition delivery here.
Giniw Collective, Honor the Earth, and WECAN representatives meet with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor regarding the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, August 2021.
The fight to stop Line 3 is not over! Even as the pipeline construction is now completed, and currently poisoning local wild rice beds and waters, the call for a Federal Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) continues. WECAN will be continuing this vital advocacy effort for justice and accountability.
Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is an initiative to phase-out fossil fuels and fast-track climate solutions inspired by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Based on 3 pillars:
NON-PROLIFERATION: Preventing the proliferation of coal, oil and gas by ending exploration and production.
GLOBAL DISARMAMENT: Phasing-out existing stockpiles and production in line with Paris 1.5C goal.
PEACEFUL TRANSITION: Fast-tracking solutions and a just transition for every worker, community and country.
Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director is a member of the Steering Committee for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, and we are honored to continue amplifying the tenets of the treaty as we urge governments to sign on.
Divestment & Fossil Fuel Resistance Collaborations
WECAN joins divestment partners and collaborators outside the Glasgow Finance Alliance on Net Zero (GFANZ) Reception in Glasgow during COP26 calling for no more fossil fuels and greenwashing. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid/WECAN International
Build Back Fossil Free
The Build Back Fossil Free coalition is urging President Biden to meet his climate commitments. The Coalition is calling for President Biden to use Executive Authority to:
Stop the Bad — Stop approving the fossil fuel projects fueling climate chaos. Protect the Black, Indigenous, Brown, AAPI and working-class communities that are disproportionately harmed.
Build the Good — Declare a climate emergency. Repair the harm caused by environmental racism and Build Back Fossil Free, delivering jobs, justice, and clean energy for all.
Fossil fuel pollution and climate disasters are already disrupting millions of lives. We deserve a world beyond fossil fuels: a world in which workers’ rights, community health, and our shared climate come before corporate profits. WECAN is a part of the overall coalition efforts as well as a member of the grass tops working group. Learn more about Build Back Fossil Free here.
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. Learn more about the Stop the Money Pipeline Campaign here.
Insure Our Future
Insure Our Future U.S. is a campaign led by environmental, consumer protection, and grassroots organizations holding the U.S. insurance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. We are part of the global Insure Our Future campaign, which promotes a rapid shift of the insurance industry away from fossil fuels to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Learn more about our recent advocacy and campaign updates here.
Divestment & Fossil Fuel Resistance Actions
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
At this time, WECAN International is engaged in various campaigns and collaborative efforts and actions demanding governments, financial institutions, and corporations end their support and financing for dangerous fossil fuel projects. Below are a few selected actions.
People vs. Fossil Fuels Week of Action
From October 11-15, 2021, frontline leaders and allies led thousands of people to take action in Washington D.C. to demand that President Biden hasten the end of the fossil fuel era, and to highlight the damage done by fossil fuels, the climate impacts we are already facing, and the need for real solutions rooted in justice. There were 655 people arrested in acts of civil disobedience, calling for President Biden to uphold his commitments to climate and environmental justice.
Indigenous water protectors and land defenders lead the first day of the People vs Fossil Fuels Week of Action in Washington D.C. on October 11. Photo Credit: Aishah Nyeta-Brown/WECAN International
Treaty People Gathering to Stop Line 3
In June 2021, nonviolent actions took place along the Line 3 route as part of the Treaty People Gathering, a mass mobilization of more than 2,000 people organized by Indigenous-led groups, communities of faith, and climate justice organizations. Water Protectors took action at several sites along the pipeline in the largest act of civil disobedience yet to stop Line 3. WECAN staff participated in the weekend long gathering and mass mobilization. Learn more and see a full photo album here.
Over 2,000 people take action as part of the Treaty People Gathering, shutting down a road near an area where Enbridge is planning to drill under the Mississippi River, in northern Minnesota, June 7, 2021. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid/WECAN International.
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 "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
#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 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. Since then WECAN has taken multiple steps to advocate for stronger commitments and implementation.
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.
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 EPA for an external consultation process in regards to revising the Equator Principles (EP).
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, and 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. To see our collective response to the new Equator Principles, please see the press release.
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 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.
Prior to the release of the PRBs, WECAN International joined a civil society submission coordinated by our partners noting 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.
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.
Find more information about the action and collective demands in our joint press release here.
WECAN Representatives at the "Stop Financing Fossil Fuels Now" Rally outside the World Bank 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.
Photo Credit: WECAN International
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).
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 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.