Wespath Benefits and Investments’ Actions—
Dakota Access Pipeline

Wespath is closely monitoring the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction and recognizes concerns raised by fellow United Methodists about the pipeline’s impact on the treaty territory of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

“Wespath and other investors are engaging the companies involved in the project. We have asked them to conduct meaningful consultation with affected groups and to address human rights-related risks aligned with the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” said Wespath General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain.

“We continue to support long-term solutions that address human rights-related risks within our investments and affirm the rights of Native American communities.”

Specific actions Wespath has taken:

  • September 19, 2016—Wespath General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain sent a letter to the chief executive officer of Energy Transfer Partners (DAPL developer) asking the company to communicate a clear strategy for conducting open and ongoing consultation with the communities impacted by the pipeline.
  • December 5, 2016—Wespath staff participated in an investor call with the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in order to better understand the Tribe’s concerns.
  • December 6, 2016—Wespath co-filed a shareholder resolution asking Enbridge, a Canadian firm and part owner of DAPL, to provide a detailed report on its due diligence process for identifying and addressing social and environmental risks, including indigenous rights risks, when reviewing acquisitions. Canada-based Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) is the lead-filer.
  • February 6, 2017—Wespath staff attended an investor meeting with Wells Fargo, one of the banks financing DAPL, during which investors inquired about the factors Wells Fargo considers when assessing project risk.
  • February 17, 2017—Wespath joined investors representing $653 billion in assets in requesting that banks financing DAPL support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a re-route of the pipeline to avoid treaty territory.
  • April 25, 2017—Wespath voted in support of a shareholder resolution filed with Wells Fargo asking the company to develop and adopt a global policy regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. The resolution—which received 22% investor support—requested the Indigenous People’s Rights Policy include respect for the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities affected by Wells Fargo financing.
  • April 26, 2017—Wespath voted in support of a shareholder resolution filed with Marathon Petroleum asking the company to prepare a report describing the due diligence process used to identify and address environmental and social risks, including the rights of indigenous peoples, in reviewing potential acquisitions—35% percent of shareholders voted in favor.
  • May 11, 2017—Wespath’s shareholder resolution filed with Enbridge received the support of 30% of investors. In response to the strong support from investors, the company committed to amending its due diligence processes for assessing indigenous peoples’ rights over the next year.
  • October 23, 2017—Wespath joined investors with a combined $2.6 trillion in assets in urging The Equator Principles Association to strengthen the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights within the Equator Principles framework. The Principles set forth criteria that financial institutions apply to help them manage environmental and social risks in project finance. Thirteen of the 17 banks that financed DAPL have adopted the Principles. On November 2, the Equator Principles Association announced a review of the Principles “that will consider the key issues of scope of applicability, human rights (inclusive of the rights of Indigenous Peoples), and climate change, amongst others.”

Wespath will provide updates as its actions continue.

Updated November 14, 2017; originally posted on February 22, 2017

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