In December, Praxis Mutual Funds® co-filed shareholder resolutions with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley relating to the controversy around the Dakota Access Pipeline and indigenous rights. The resolutions ask the companies to report on how their indigenous rights policies could be extended to their decisions to finance firms involved in energy, mining, oil and gas, and infrastructure operations, even if individual projects are not directly financed.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley apply strong indigenous rights policies when they consider financing specific projects in indigenous territories. Both companies, however, provided financing to firms participating in building the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Increasingly, violations of indigenous peoples’ rights present risks that can adversely affect shareholder value. These violations can inflict reputational damage, delay projects and bring disruptions, litigation and criminal charges – something Praxis is concerned about because the Praxis Impact Bond Fund and Praxis Value Index Fund have investments in the two companies.
The pipeline project has received a lot of attention, as people concerned about ancient burial sites and the region’s clean water protested construction of the pipeline through indigenous land. Many have held companies accountable for their support – direct and indirect – of the pipeline. For example, the city of Seattle decided not to renew its contract with Wells Fargo, citing its lending to the pipeline project as one of the reasons.
Praxis will work in collaboration with the lead filer of this shareholder resolution – As You Sow – and other co-filers to assess responses from the companies and determine if we are comfortable withdrawing the resolutions.