The Securing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Green Economy (SIRGE) Coalition applauds the recently adopted human rights policy at AXIS Capital. AXIS Capital is the first North American insurer to state that it will not underwrite new projects that fail to obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of impacted Indigenous communities, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
As a company that insures energy projects, AXIS has set a standard that other insurance companies should aspire to. The new policy is an important step and a major victory for Indigenous rights defenders. The SIRGE Coalition expects AXIS to fully implement its new policy and to conduct thorough FPIC Due Diligence. The SIRGE Coalition welcomes dialogue with AXIS and other insurance industry leaders to expand FPIC and Indigenous Peoples policies across the sector.
Global demand is skyrocketing for the transition minerals necessary for renewable energy, such as nickel, lithium, cobalt, and copper. Increased mining threatens Indigenous rights and territories. This risk is exacerbated when there is not a comprehensive assessment of risks and harms to Indigenous people and full participation of impacted Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous territories contain significant concentrations of untapped heavy metal reserves around the world. In the United States, a study by MSCI estimated that 97 percent of nickel, 89 percent of copper, 79 percent of lithium, and 68 percent of cobalt reserves and resources are located within 35 miles of Native American reservations. A 2020 study found that mining potentially influences 50 million square kilometers of Earth’s land surface, with 8 percent coinciding with Protected Areas, 7 percent with Key Biodiversity Areas, and 16 percent with Remaining Wilderness.
Financial services companies that invest in, finance, insure, bond, and reinsure projects and companies in the transition minerals supply chain, from mines and smelters to electric vehicle manufacturers and technology companies, should:
- Engage with impacted Indigenous communities;
- Adopt FPIC and Indigenous Peoples policies, aligning with UNDRIP; and
- Conduct thorough FPIC due diligence for new and existing projects and partners.
Failing to adopt FPIC and Indigenous Peoples policies subjects financial institutions to unnecessary and costly legal, political, reputational, and operational risks. When properly executed, FPIC delivers mutually beneficial outcomes to Indigenous communities, operators, and financial firms.
About the SIRGE Coalition
The Securing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Green Economy (SIRGE) Coalition is a coalition of Indigenous Peoples and leaders, who, along with our allies, champion a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The SIRGE Coalition launched on August 9, 2022, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Members of the Coalition include Cultural Survival, First Peoples Worldwide, Batani Foundation, Earthworks, and the Society for Threatened Peoples.
The SIRGE Coalition’s primary goal is to elevate Indigenous leadership through the creation of a broad coalition and the promotion of constructive dialogue. In accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the coalition will uphold all rights of Indigenous Peoples, including their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories, and especially their rights to determine their own priorities as to their lands, territories, and resources. Indigenous leadership is essential as Indigenous Peoples conserve about 80 percent of the planet's remaining biodiversity.
The SIRGE Coalition is staffed by an Executive Committee made up of representatives from each organization and is governed by an Indigenous Steering Committee made up of two representatives of Indigenous Peoples from each of the seven socio-cultural regions across the globe along with a global chairperson and the chairperson of the Executive Committee, chosen from Indigenous members.
SIRGE Coalition is calling for full implementation of the UNDRIP, including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, in all endeavors related to the extraction, mining, production, consumption, sale, and recycling of transition and rare earth minerals around the world.