Friends Fiduciary joined with other investors with assets under management totaling over $650 billion in asking banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline to address the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a reroute of the pipeline. The letter urged banks funding the pipeline at both the project and company level to support a reroute and work with the Tribe and companies involved to achieve a peaceful resolution.
The Tribe has repeatedly raised issues regarding the process of consultation, which failed to ensure that free, prior, and fully informed consent was obtained prior to pipeline construction. The pipeline “crosses the Tribe’s drinking water, sacred sites, and treaty territory.” Free, prior, and informed consent is a tenet of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The letter outlined potential reputational and financial risks to banks if the project went through, and acknowledged that it may be legally impossible for many banks to revoke funding at this stage. However, signatories to the letter believe that banks should seek to fully utilize their position to ensure a just resolution.
Looking forward, Friends Fiduciary has also asked individual banks to look at their due diligence processes with regards to the rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is especially salient in the current political climate as oil and gas infrastructure is increasingly given the green light by the new administration.