The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has earned kudos from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) for requiring clients to document that they have received clearance from indigenous communities before working in the tar sands of Alberta and other environmentally sensitive oil-producing regions.
New environmental and social standards require businesses working in indigenous communities to examine whether clients to document where client activities impact Indigenous communities and the status of consultation with those communities, the RAN said in a recent release. Bankers will have to examine whether clients have "policies and processes consistent with the standard of Free, Prior and Informed Consent,” the group said. "RBC’s policy breaks significant new ground among international banks with its handling of Indigenous rights.”
The move comes in the wake of Canada’s signing of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and after two years of campaigning by the RAN and affects a range of companies operating in the oil and gas industry.
"With RBC's new policy, the banking giant has made a promise to take responsibility for its financing in the tar sands and to uphold the rights of First Nations. We commend the bank for its new commitment, and look forward to seeing policy put into practice," said Brant Olson, campaign director for the Rainforest Action Network, in a statement released Dec. 22. "RBC is raising the bar for the financial sector and signaling to oil and gas corporations that it is time to take environmental and human rights seriously."