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After a visit by its representatives to Standing Rock, Swedish financial institution Nordea announced today that it will not back the Dakota Access Pipeline if it violates the demands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Nordea met with tribal representatives on the ground, including Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe urged Nordea to divest and respect the rights of Indigenous communities via a letter delivered by Sami artist and activist Sofia Jannok and Greenpeace.
At a meeting with Greenpeace and Nordea regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, it was announced that:
- Nordea will demand guarantees from the companies building the Dakota Access Pipeline that it will not go through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation land. If the companies do not respect this, Nordea will start the process of selling its holdings in the companies;
- Nordea will place these companies in quarantine for six months;
- Nordea will send a letter to the companies by Friday with a clear requirement: They must respect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's demands not to route the Dakota Access Pipeline in the vicinity of their land;
- If the companies do not meet that requirement within the next six months, Nordea's Sustainable Finance team will recommend selling Nordea's holdings in these companies.
- If the companies concerned are found to be in violation of indigenous peoples' rights, Nordea's Sustainable Finance team will recommend selling holdings in them;
- If the companies win a lawsuit in relation to the last stretch of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or if a change in the political situation allows companies to legally be allowed to route the pipeline near Standing Rock Sioux Tribe land, the Nordea Sustainable Finance team will recommend that Nordea sells off holdings in the companies.
"It's an important step that Nordea put its foot down and now has specific requirements that the oil pipeline not go through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's land," Greenpeace Nordic climate and energy campaigner Rolf Lindahl said. "It sends a clear signal to the world that the rights of indigenous peoples must be respected. We encourage others to set the same demands for the companies that are building the oil pipeline.
"The fact that bank after bank is withdrawing or voicing concern over the project shows the power of people united. This is another positive development for water protectors, though it does not yet determine the pipeline's future, which should be stopped in its entirety."
Greenpeace USA spokesperson Mary Sweeters concurred. "It is becoming increasingly clear that financial institutions view the Dakota Access pipeline as a liability," she said.
"Banks should not be funding projects that violate human rights and contribute to climate change. The fact that Nordea traveled to Standing Rock to consult with those on the ground and then came to this decision is significant. The recklessness of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco and the threat to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are real and can scarcely be depicted in full through media. This project is a crime against Indigenous sovereignty and human rights everywhere. It's time for all banks invested in DAPL companies and those giving loans to get out for good."
Odin Fund Management, one of Norway's leading fund managers, announced Thursday that it sold $23.8 million (243 million NOK) worth of shares invested in the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.
SpareBank 1, one of the financial institutions that offers Odin Funds, said that they have strong ethical standards for their investments and "as a result of information in press recently Odin Management undergone analyzes of companies heavier involved in the pipeline in question. We see then that this project in isolation is challenging with regard to social responsibility. For this reason we have chosen to divest the fund's shares in Marathon Petroleum."
According to Greenpeace Norway sustainable finance campaigner, Martin Norman, "If you take corporate social responsibility seriously, and one of your assets invests in a project that is in clear breach of your company guidelines, you get out ... All of the other Norwegian banks and funds that claim to have a CSR policy, including KLP, NORDEA, Storebrand and the Norwegian Oil Fund, must divest from the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline project immediately."
This news follows the Nov. 17 announcement by Norway's largest bank, DNB, that it sold its assets in the DAPL and is reconsidering the loan it provided.
The Sami, indigenous people living in the very north of Europe, and Standing Rock camp attorneys are working together to get Norway institutions to completely divest from the DAPL.
"Now it's time for DNB to be accountable," Beaska Niillas, Norwegian Sami Association, said. "DNB made the promise themselves: 'we won't be part of projects that violate Indigenous and human rights.' We provided them with information, and after they've seen the pictures and videos, there should no longer be doubt in their minds ... The only right thing to do in this urgent situation—terminate the loans."
The $3.8 billion pipeline project is now in its final stretch. More than 80 percent of the pipeline has already been constructed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Nov. 14 that it would delay a decision on granting an easement to Energy Transfer Partners. However, on Nov. 17, a reporter spotted construction continuing despite the Army Corps decision.
"The financial institutions behind the pipeline are realizing that it is bad business to invest in companies willing to disregard Indigenous sovereignty to destroy sacred Native lands and water supply," Greenpeace USA spokesperson Mary Sweeters said.
"It's great to see Norwegian banks and funds leading the way, but it is time for U.S. banks to step up and follow suit. Citibank, the financial institution with the largest share in the pipeline, must divest and halt its loan disbursements immediately."