DIVEST/INVEST FOR A JUST TRANSITION
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.
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.
Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegations and Education
The Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegations and Education Program 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 and Education Program.
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 Delegations have bore critical results in divestments, education, policy changes, and investigations, including in Norway, where the advocacy of the Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation was instrumental in DNB bank selling 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. Additionally, DNB and UBS, two of the banks the Delegation met with and sent evidence to regarding rights violations, chose not to renew Energy Transfer Partners credit facilities with their institutions removing 100’s of millions of dollars off the table.
The program has organized and facilitated four 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 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
#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). The revision of the EP is critical for holding financial institutions accountable for their investments. The Delegation advocated strengthening the EP and demanded that banks stop financing activities that commit Indigenous and human rights abuses and further harm the global climate.
It is vital that women's voices for climate justice are included in the Equator Principles Revision process. Women are impacted first and worst by climate change, yet studies worldwide demonstrate that women must be engaged at all levels of participation, leadership and decision-making to build effective and just social and ecological programs and policies. During the external consultation, the Indigenous Women's Divestment Delegation and allies ensured 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.
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
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. Here 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.
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.
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.