Defending Indigenous rights.

The Dakota Access Pipeline in the western United States has been a lightening rod of controversy and a focal point for civil disobedience by Indigenous groups and their supporters. Opponents of the project believe it violates indigenous rights and will cause irreparable damage to the surrounding natural environment. By facilitating the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, the pipeline will also contribute to climate change over the long term. TD Bank is participating in the project’s financing and is the focus of VCIM’s engagement efforts.

Engagement

VCIM encouraged TD to reconsider its decision to provide financing. TD has signed on to the Equator Principles, which are UN guidelines that stress the need for leaders of projects such as pipelines to obtain – prior to financing – the consent of Indigenous groups when the project impacts these groups negatively.

We encouraged TD to review whether the pipeline’s project leaders sought this consent from the indigenous peoples impacted by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Outcome

In its response, TD said it brought in an independent human rights expert to conduct a review and make recommendations to help the project leaders improve their social policies in the future. TD also said it would continue its efforts to facilitate a resolution to the dispute. But we expect a long, drawn-out standoff between the pipeline’s advocates and opponents.

While TD has earned a great deal of goodwill for its sustainability efforts over many years, the bank’s involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline may erode some of that goodwill and expose the bank to long-term reputational damage. VCIM continues to monitor this issue and will take further action as necessary.

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