Gwich’in Steering Committee Responds to AIG’s New Policy on Arctic Drilling, Notes Gwich’in Leaders will Stop at Nothing to Protect Traditional Lifeways
Today American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) announced new company-wide policy, which rules out providing insurance and investment to “any new Arctic energy exploration,” among other climate commitments. With this announcement, AIG is the first American company among a growing list of international insurance companies to publicly issue a policy ruling out new energy exploration projects in the Arctic.
This announcement demonstrates continuing momentum towards the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights by the global insurance industry. AIG will join several international insurers that have issued clear, public statements refusing insurance for development projects in the Arctic Refuge. The new policy comes in response to the ongoing international corporate campaign led by the Gwich’in Steering Committee and allies.
In response, Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee said the following: “Our lives and our sovereignty are non-negotiable. We will not allow the oil industry to destroy Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, the sacred place where life begins.” Demientieff added, “We are grateful to AIG for stepping up as the first American insurance company to take a lead to protect our sacred lands. We appreciate the long-term vision necessary to set these policies in place so that our people will continue to have a cultural and spiritual connection to our lands, waters, and animals for generations to come.
While this policy provides increased protection for our sacred lands, it does not clarify the geographic coverage of the policy, nor does the company include a fulsome commitment to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples wherever there are impacts. A more fulsome policy would also include a commitment to operationalizing Indigenous Peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
An update on global insurance company policies is set to be released in March 2022 with the list of companies that have publicly released statements and are standing with the Gwich’in Nation to protect the Arctic Refuge.
# # #
Contact: Bernadette Demientieff, Gwich’in Steering Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org