Last October, over ninety of the world's largest banks met in Brazil to discuss their commitments under the Equator Principles, a collectively agreed set of rules for financing big infrastructure projects. The Equator Banks, ACT! campaign called from August until October on these Equator Banks to commit to a new set of Principles that stops the financing of climate disasters and fully respects Indigenous Peoples' rights and territories. Which they did!
This global campaign pointed out that the current version of the Equator Principles does not, despite its promises to finance projects in a "socially responsible manner" and avoid negative impacts on climate change wherever possible, stop banks from financing Equator Disasters: projects that have devastating impact on the climate and that fail to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Successfully, the 91 Equator Banks decided during the meeting in Brazil to update these Principles. In their statement, they state that "the aim of the process will be on a targeted update to the EPs - 'EP4 - that will consider the key issues of scope applicability, human rights (inclusive of the rights of Indigenous Peoples), and climate change, amongst others". This rivision process is to last 18 months and will include external stakeholders.
The groups that launched this campaign welcomed this decision and are committed to contribute to the revision process. However, we also promise to continue to monitor transactions under the Equator Principles framework and will vigorously oppose any Equator disaster with a large negative impact on climate change and/or Indigenous Peoples' rights.
See below for the original call to ACT! on the Equator Banks. The call was open from August till the Brazil meeting in October.
Stop financing Climate Disasters
Respect Indigenous peoples' rights and territories
This October 23-25, 91 banks will meet in São Paulo, Brazil to discuss their social and environmental commitments under the Equator Principles.
While these Principles are to ensure that adopting banks do not finance projects with a large negative impact on people and planet, Equator Banks continue to support projects that pose a massive threat to the world’s climate, such as coal, oil and gas extraction, transportation and power generation projects. Equator Banks also continue to finance fossil fuel and other projects that trample on the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples.
We are appalled that the Equator Principles as formulated today allow Equator Banks to finance projects that are a disaster for the world's’ climate and for Indigenous peoples. For the Principles to be a meaningful sustainability commitment they need to be fully overhauled.
We therefore call on the Equator Principles Association to agree in Brazil to a full revision process for the Principles, so that they reflect at minimum two solid commitments:
1. Stop Financing Climate Disasters:
- include a full commitment to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees, aiming for 1,5 degrees;
- include stringent and binding criteria that all projects to be financed under the Equator framework be fully aligned with reaching the Paris Agreement goals; and for this reason:
- explicitly exclude all new fossil fuel extraction, transportation and power projects from financing under the Equator Principles.
2. Respect Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Territories:
- include an explicit commitment to uphold the right of Indigenous Peoples anywhere in the world to give or deny Free, Prior and Informed Consent for projects situated on territories they traditionally use and occupy;
- commit to not financing projects, neither directly or indirectly, that did not obtain such consent;
- strengthen due diligence and consultation processes to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ rights are fully respected;
- ensure that Indigenous Peoples and other project-affected communities have full access to grievance channels with project sponsors and financing banks when their rights and interests are violated.
In Brazil, Equator Banks face a choice between deepening their collective commitment to effectively stop financing climate change and respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, or see the Equator initiative become irrelevant for meeting the pressing social and environmental challenges the world faces today. We expect that the Equator Banks will act decisively on this call.
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