MEDIA ADVISORY: Indigenous, Environmental, and Climate Justice Groups Rally Outside Equator Principles Meeting, Demand Stronger Commitments

Indigenous, Environmental, and Climate Justice Groups Rally Outside Equator Principles Meeting, Demand Stronger Commitments

Despite global standards, world’s biggest banks continue to fund environmentally damaging projects that disregard Indigenous communities’ rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent



What: This week in Washington, major global banks are meeting to revise the Equator Principles, industry-led due diligence standards that should prevent banks from supporting environmentally and socially harmful projects. At the same time, some of those same banks are re-upping their support for Enbridge, the Canadian company behind the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, which violates Indigenous rights and is flatly incompatible with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Banks renewing their support for Enbridge comes on the heels of the publication of a landmark U.N. report showing the desperate urgency of taking concrete steps to tackle the climate crisis.


When: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 11 AM – 12 PM EDT


Where: 2121 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037, United States


Who: The rally is being organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), Honor The Earth, Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Market Forces, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace USA.


Speakers will include:

  • Wasté Win Yellowlodge Young (Ihunktowanna/Hunkpapa of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer)
  • Jessica Parfait (United Houma Nation, Graduate student at Louisiana State University exploring impacts of oil and gas on Houma tribal communities)
  • Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe, Tribal attorney, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders)
  • Michelle Cook (Diné, Human rights lawyer, and Founder and Co-Director of the Divest, Invest, Protect campaign)
  • Leoyla Cowboy (Diné, member of The Red Nation, and community organizer for the Water Protector Legal Collective)
  • Osprey Orielle Lake (Executive Director of WECAN and Co-Director of the Divest, Invest, Protect campaign).


Visuals: Colorful banners, Indigenous women in traditional regalia


Further Background: Major banks from the US and around the world called for a “do over” and a “second chance” after funding Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) Dakota Access Pipeline without the consent of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. After the human rights abuses at Standing Rock, banks said they would reform the Equator Principles.


The Equator Principles Association is bringing together over 90 international banks in Washington DC, Oct 16-18, who have signed on to adhere to a voluntary set of standards for financial institutions to assess social and environmental risk. These standards are intended to provide a minimum standard for due diligence and monitoring to support responsible risk decision making. Had these standards been stronger, banks would have not financed the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Banks are involved in a revision process until 2019 that could more effectively address concerns about potential rights violations and environmental degradation. Before 2019, critical projects – including ETP’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Enbridge’s Line 3 and TransCanada’s Keystone XL — still receive support from Equator Principle banks. Banks must be held accountable for the funds they provide to their clients and their contributions to Indigenous rights abuses and climate chaos.


Relevant Links:


Statements from organizers:


“We keep finding ourselves campaigning against the very same environmentally destructive projects that violate Indigenous rights, yet this is exactly what the Equator Principles is supposed to safeguard against.” said Ruth Breech, Senior Climate and Energy Organizer at Rainforest Action Network. “What we need is real action for a historic redirection of capital away from fossil fuels and towards the economy of the future that protects Indigenous rights of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.”


“Dirty tar sands pipelines like Line 3 would be disastrous for our communities and our climate, and any bank that’s helping fund the companies behind these projects are complicit in the damage they cause,” said Kelly Martin, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign. “If these banks are actually committed to addressing human rights violations and the threat of climate change, they must immediately stop supporting these dangerous projects.”


“We are calling for action and accountability from the institutions enabling fossil fuel extraction to devastate the Earth and communities worldwide,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International and Co-Director of the Divest, Invest, Protect Campaign. “In a time of unprecedented and accelerating climate chaos – business as usual simply cannot continue. Indigenous peoples and Indigenous women in particular continue to experience the worst of the abuses, rights violations, and impacts of extractive industries – and despite this, are showing up with brilliant solutions, demands, and strategies to envision a just and healthy world. It is time for the Equator Principles Association to heed the calls of Indigenous peoples, and take immediate action to respect and uphold their rights and align themselves with the facts of climate change.”