Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation calls on banks to withdraw funding from fossil fuels

| 17th April 2018
Delegates Michelle Cook, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Tara Houska and Jackie Fielder

Delegates Michelle Cook, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Tara Houska and Jackie Fielder in Germany last year. 

WECAN
The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation is travelling to Europe on April 20 to call on banks and financial institutions to withdraw funding from extractive industries that threaten their environment and way of life. The delegation is being facilitated by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports

Divestment from dirty fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure demonstrates a commitment to our collective future and the web of life.

Some of Europe’s most powerful banks and financial institutions continue in the "unethical" financing of fossil fuel projects despite rights violations and dangers to the health of the global climate, it was claimed today.

The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation is highlighting the many human rights and Indigenous rights violations and requesting divestment and accountability from companies responsible for these harms. The delegation is being facilitated by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International in partnership with Indigenous women leaders and their directives.

A delegation of Indigenous women leaders from across North America, and their allies, will engage with political leaders, representatives of financial and insurance institutions, civil society groups, "to share stories, data, and calls to action for [an] immediate movement towards fossil fuel divestment, and a transition to a just, clean energy future".

Financial institutions

A spokesperson said: "Previous delegations have illuminated the power and potential for results, as Indigenous women leaders meet eye-to-eye with representatives of the entities responsible for immense cultural and ecological devastation in their home regions."

The event aims to draw attention to "destructive projects" which the organisers say includes the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access and Bayou Bridge Pipelines, Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Pipeline, and Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline.

The lobbying campaign is also aimed at accountability and divestments by companies that are, according to the protesters, endangering rights and neglecting Indigenous People’s right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Swiss elder women activists will formally welcome the Delegation to Switzerland during a special event in Zurich later this month. The aim is to strengthen alliances and solidarity between women’s networks, and between nations, "to bring well-being to the world".

The campaign will focus on Switzerland and Germany, two countries which house several of the world's largest financial institutions which, according to the organisers, support "dangerous extraction projects across Indigenous territories in the US and globally".

Severe punishments

The delegation is part of a growing movement pursuing institutional divestment as an effective strategy to hold banks and fossil fuel related companies accountable to Indigenous rights and protection of land, climate and water.

Charlene Aleck, the elected councillor for the Tsleil Waututh Nation, Sacred Trust Initiative, Canada, said: "Kinder Morgan investors need to know there is great uncertainty in the TransMountain pipeline expansion project. I am traveling with the Delegation to share the immense risks we are asked to bare and how committed we are to oppose this project.”

Dr Sara Jumping Eagle, a Oglala Lakota and Mdewakantonwan Dakota pediatrician, who lives and works on the Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota, said: “Everyday we live wondering when the day will come that our people will not have access to drinking water [because of] pipelines leak.

"We are trying to plan for that day. In the midst of poverty and a legacy of oppression, we fight to live, to love, and to ensure our sovereignty.  When the businesses and banks you invest in, are funding the poisonous Dakota Access pipeline flowing under the Missouri River, so are you. Know where your money is going.” explains

Michelle Cook, a Diné/Navajo human rights lawyer, said: “States in the US are imposing laws and severe punishments to criminalise those who protest harmful resource extraction. Despite the abuses which occurred at Standing Rock, many of these banks continue to sign on and renew their financial commitments to the companies involved .

Extractive industries

"Our goal is clear, there must be justice and accountability for banks and corporations. Due to the legacy of colonial laws in the United States which fail to recognise and adequately protect indigenous rights we must humbly appeal to the international community for their intercessions.

"Indigenous peoples are in danger, we need Europeans to act, to divest, to organise within their respective nations to make their banks accountable for indigenous human rights abroad. We  need Europe to stand and fight alongside us. Together in unity, acting as one,  in the spirit of mutual aid and defence, we will achieve peace and security for our climate and collective future.”

Osprey Orielle Lake, the executive director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, added: “Divestment from dirty fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure demonstrates a commitment to our collective future and the web of life.

"What is needed from financial institutions now is a show of leadership and dedication to ecological sustainability, and human and Indigenous rights, as we face the unprecedented challenges of a world plunging into climate chaos. Indigenous women have long bore the brunt of extractive industries, and despite this, shine powerfully with solutions to the harms that come from these destructive practices."

This Author

Brendan Montague is the editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from The Women's Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) International. 

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