Dear Community,
We hope you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones as our global communities enter a new phase of rising COVID-19 cases, pro-democracy resistance, and ongoing climate disasters. In the United States, we are taking a deep breath and celebrating the win of newly elected President Biden and Vice President Harris, and the end of the Trump Administration. This has been a vital win, and yet, we are keenly aware of the long-term impacts of policies and practices that have significantly perpetuated white supremacy, climate and environmental degradation, neo-liberal capitalism, patriarchy, and human and Indigenous rights violations. There is much work to do!

In response to the U.S. election results, WECAN has released a statement with our analysis and vision going forward. The full statement is included at the bottom of this newsletter and in WECAN's blog, which you can find at the button below.
Our work to accelerate climate justice and build a thriving future with our communities endures. We are spirited by the incredible efforts of our network to forge climate solutions— from the gulf of Louisiana to the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond. Please enjoy our newsletter featuring updates on our new and ongoing programs and campaigns that are building the healthy and just world we seek.
WECAN Launches New Indigenous-led Food Sovereignty and Security Program
Monique Verdin (Houma Nation) in her homelands of Louisiana. Monique is the Program Coordinator for
WECAN's new Indigenous-led Food Sovereignty and Security Program.
Photo by Andy Cook via Another Gulf is Possible.
As the cascading crises of climate and COVID-19 continue, food insecurity is on the rise, and it is more important than ever to ensure that communities globally have access to fresh and healthy food and medicines. WECAN is honored and excited to announce a new program led by Indigenous women of the Houma Nation and inter-tribal partners from the Bvlbuncha Collective in the Gulf South of Turtle Island (USA) to secure and grow food and medicinal herbs for their communities, and to support a sustainable path toward community resiliency.

Through Indigenous garden networks, Indigenous women are preserving and propagating plant knowledge, and developing food sovereignty, community and local economies by returning to seeding adaptive practices rooted in Traditional Ecological Knowledge. They are also inspiring solutions to modern-day challenges, like climate adaptation.

The Houma Nation and other coastal Nations have maintained a sense of sovereignty at the ends of bayous, where families survived off the estuary’s abundance and rich soil; but these territories are disappearing at one of the fastest rates on earth, due to a legacy of extractive industries and a changing climate. In addition, Indigenous land protectors and defenders are risking their lives to do this work in the region known as "Cancer Alley", an area deeply impacted by industrial plants that have led to exponential rates of cancer.

Developing and supporting local Indigenous food networks is crucial for ensuring the continuation of sacred and long-standing cultural practices connected to health, food, medicine, and the land.

The program is led by Monique Verdin, a visionary leader and daughter of southeast Louisiana’s Houma Nation. The complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, and the climate crisis have inspired her to intimately document Houma relatives and their lifeways at the ends of the bayous, as they endure the realities of restoration and adaptation in the heart of Turtle Island’s (America’s) Mississippi River Delta.
A Call to Action on the Principles for Responsible Banking: End Climate-destructive Financing now
A new briefing from civil society organizations, including WECAN, is calling for signatories of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative's (UNEP FI) Principles for Responsible Banking (PRBs) to end climate-destructive financing now— learn more here!

In September last year, the UNEP FI and 30 founding banks launched the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRBs) during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Starting out with 132 signatories, 193 banks and counting have now adopted the six principles that comprise the PRBs. This includes a commitment to align the bank’s business strategy with the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WECAN was at the launch in 2019 with our partners calling for no greenwashing and for signatories to take serious action in meeting the urgency of our current climate crisis, stopping deforestation, upholding Indigenous and human rights, and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

One year later, analysis shows that at least 20 PRB banks continue to be on a trajectory of climate destruction, and continue to finance projects that are in blatant disregard of climate, biodiversity and human rights impacts. The briefing calls on signatory banks to set meaningful targets that genuinely align the bank with the Paris Climate Agreement and SDGs, to take measures to facilitate stakeholder engagement and respect all human rights and the specific rights of Indigenous People, and to be as transparent as possible about their progress in implementing the Principles. With partner organizations, WECAN will continue pursuing in-depth analysis and take action with the PRBs and their impact on frontline communities and civil society. We must defund the fossil fuel sector now!
UPDATE: WECAN Women for Forests in the
 Democratic Republic of Congo
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), WECAN DRC is preparing for this year’s tree planting season as part of our Women for Forests programming. Since 2015, we have been building a coalition of women with our local partner SAFECO to protect the old growth rainforest of the Itombwe region and reforest clear-cut lands. The program is led by Neema Namadamu, WECAN Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is herself a force of Nature.
Neema had this to say in a recent program update:
"The women are so happy to be tree-planting. They see our project as tied to their identity; as an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to work a big diverse project to feed their families and reforest their heartland and protect their ancient forests. They see this project as a symbol of the future they are growing and cultivating. This has been a most challenging year, but always we are hopeful with the trees and forest protection."
In addition to education and advocacy work to stop illegal timber harvesting and promote forest conservation, the women of WECAN DRC are continuing their successful tree nurseries growing over 25 local tree varieties, which have medicinal, food, fuel, and reforestation purposes. Thirty percent of the new growth is for human use, and seventy percent of the planted trees are for rewilding damaged lands. Each year the new trees decrease use of the Itombwe old growth forest, which is essential for carbon sequestration and biodiversity protection.

This year, WECAN DRC initiated a food sovereignty component to the program, and local women are also now caring for gardens to increase food security in the area, which is located near two displacement camps. Currently the women are growing cabbage, carrots, eggplant, and more. You can learn more about WECAN's Women for Forests program in the DRC in our recent webinar.
Ratifying the Escazú Agreement Will Support Women Land Defenders and Protect Nature
Today, Ms. Magazine published an article by Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director, and Katherine Quaid (Nez Perce/Paiute/Cayuse), WECAN Communications coordinator highlighting the connections between women land defenders, environmental protection, and the recent news of the ratification of the Escazú Agreement. Read the article here!

The Escazú Agreement, is a groundbreaking multi-lateral accord that can help protect land defenders and preserve biodiverse ecosystems across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). To enter into full force the agreement needed 11 ratifications, and on November 5, 2020 Mexico became the 11th country to ratify the Agreement. Countries can now start the process for the accord to enter the implementation phase across Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is important to spotlight that Latin America is one of the deadliest regions for environmental land defenders in the world. Combined with entrenched colonial and patriarchal policies, individuals threatened are often times Indigenous peoples and Women Environmental and Human Rights Defenders (WEHRD) fighting for the protection of their communities and territories. Despite violence, frontline and Indigenous women frequently act as the backbones of their communities, knowledge keepers of biodiversity and forests, and leaders in resistance efforts to defend their lands. They are also the inspiration for alternatives and solutions for a healthy and just world at this critical time of multiple expanding crises. With proper implementation, the Escazú Agreement will secure the rights of land defenders and human rights activists as they work to protect the environment and their communities from further harm.

We acknowledge and send deep appreciation to all the grassroots groups and policy makers who have been fighting for human rights and the defense of nature through the ratification of the Escazú Agreement for many years. WECAN has been organizing and advocating for the accord since 2017, and most recently hosted a webinar last month featuring women land defenders, activists, and policy makers, calling for the implementation and ratification of the Escazú Agreement.
On one of Mongabay Newscast's most recent podcast episodes, Osprey Orielle Lake was invited to speak with the Mongabay team about the Escazú Agreement and to talk about some of the most inspiring women she’s worked with who are fighting to protect their communities and forests in the Amazon, and how the Escazú Agreement could benefit them.
Wanda Kashudoha Loescher Culp,
WECAN Tongass Coordinator,
Wins Award for Activism to Protect
the Tongass National Forest!
Wonderful news! In recognition of her remarkable achievements in protecting Alaska, Wanda Kashudoha Loescher Culp, Tlingit artist, activist, and WECAN Tongass Coordinator has been awarded one of Alaska Conservation Foundation’s 2020 Conservation Achievement Awards!

We have had the great honor of working with Wanda since 2016 to protect her homelands in the Tongass rainforests of Alaska. Wanda has spent decades of advocacy efforts in support of protecting the Tongass Rainforest and the traditional rights and lifeways of Southeast Alaska’s Indigenous peoples. Her bravery, stories, and activism have played a crucial role in shifting mindsets and moving difficult conversations forward. Wanda has been able to use her brilliant strategic thinking and talents to inspire people around the world to take action for the Tongass Forest and for Nature everywhere. Thank you Wanda for all you do, we honor you today!

In October of this year, at the behest of the Trump Administration, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released a final decision to repeal environmental protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the United States' single most important national forest for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. We are outraged and will continue our advocacy with Wanda to pursue all possible forms of action, including litigation, to defend the Tongass! Read responses from the WECAN Indigenous Women Tongass representatives, and learn more about the final ruling in the WECAN press release. This fight is far from over!
Act in Solidarity to Stop Line 3
On November 14, Minnesota lawmakers will approve or deny the water crossing permits for the Line 3 pipeline, effectively ending or approving one of the dirtiest pipelines in the U.S.

The proposed tar sands pipeline will cross 227 lakes and rivers, including the Mississippi River and rivers that feed directly into Lake Superior, putting those waterways at risk of a spill from the 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil that would flow through Line 3 every day. Join organizers to demand Minnesota decision makers stop Line 3 from being build. You can learn more and take action by following the Giniw Collective and Stop Line 3.
Support Indigenous Communities in the Amazon
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the Amazon Basin, it threatens the lives and the future of Indigenous peoples and traditional forest communities— the Guardians of the Forest. These populations are disproportionately vulnerable to contracting the illness due to the persistent lack of access to equal and adequate public services, such as health care, and the consequences of centuries of colonial and racist policies.

As part of the Founding Solidarity Circle, WECAN joins over 30 representatives from Indigenous and allied organizations to partner for the Amazon Emergency Fund to support Indigenous communities impacted by COVID-19. Resources are being mobilized to support Rapid Response Grants for Emergency Communications and Evacuation, Food and Medical Supplies, Urgent and Immediate COVID-19 Prevention and Care, Protection and Security for Forest Guardians, and Food Sovereignty and Community Resilience. Consider making a contribution to the fund and help defend the Earth Defenders!
Support Rights of Nature in the International Convention on Biological Diversity
WECAN is joining a new initiative to include Rights of Nature in the international UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD is where the world convenes on global policy for Nature, and it is now vital to include policies rooted in Rights of Nature— a framework and legal system based on the recognition and honoring of the Earth’s fundamental and inviolable right to exist, live, thrive, evolve and regenerate.

The majority of the world’s legal frameworks treat nature as property, meaning that life-giving rivers, forests and mountains are seen as objects to be sold and consumed. Legal systems built on the premise of Rights of Nature challenge the idea that natural communities and ecosystems are property to be exploited endlessly by humans, and instead recognizes the Earth as a living, rights-bearing entity. A Rights of Nature framework requires that those responsible, including corporate and governmental actors, be held fully accountable for negative impacts on Earth systems.

​Rights of Nature have been formally included in the Constitution of Ecuador and in nationwide laws in Bolivia, and have been adopted in local ordinances successfully in diverse communities across the U.S. Rights of Nature laws and related forms of Earth Jurisprudence are also active in New Zealand, Columbia, Australia, Sweden, Nepal and other regions, as the Rights of Nature movement grows.

Please click here to learn more and support this international initiative to include Rights of Nature as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity!
WECAN Responds to the
2020 U.S. Elections
Like the majority of U.S. citizens and people around the world we are relieved and celebrating the win of newly elected President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The disastrous four years of the Trump Administration have finally come to a close with the country left on a dangerous precipice— with the Covid-19 pandemic growing ever rapidly, increased racial violence, blatant encouragement of white supremacy, nearly 100 reversals and rollbacks of environmental regulations, the expansion of children held in immigration detention centers, the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement at the height of the climate crisis, and we could go on.

As we assemble to repair and reweave our society toward justice and wellbeing, we know there is tremendous work to do to comprehend more deeply what is needed for systemic change in the United States.

It must be recognized and celebrated that the Biden/Harris victory was delivered in great part due to the extensive grassroots organizing and voting of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities and youth who helped flip key states, and secure election results that steered the country away from fascism. Specifically we uplift the mobilization work of Black women in Georgia, including Stacey Abrams, Tamieka Atkins, Helen Butler, Nse Ufot, Deborah Scott, and many more who worked ceaselessly to register voters and combat voter suppression. Rural Utah Project helped register more than 4,000 Native American voters in Arizona, 97% of whom voted for Biden, clinching the race. In Wisconsin and Nevada, Latinx voters were central to delivering vital victories.

While we are relieved that Trump has been removed from office, we are deeply dismayed that the repudiation of Trump and his administration was not stronger, particularly from white voters. Though Biden won the popular vote by close to 5 million votes, over 70 million Americans voted for Trump’s fascist and racist regime to continue. Notably, exit polls revealed that 55% of white women voted for Trump, exemplifying the ways in which white supremacy continually undermines intersectional feminist leadership and collective liberation. These election results exhibit the ongoing deep rooted white supremacy, patriarchy, fear-mongering, corporate power grabs and media misinformation that seek to destabilize the country. We have considerable organizing to do to build the healthy and just world we seek.

Founded on the genocidal colonization of Indigenous Peoples and global enslavement of African Peoples, U.S. democracy has never been fully established, and we see how structural neo-liberal capitalism, colonization, racism, and patriarchy continue to undermine the dream of a fully inclusive and operating democracy. However, our hope remains steadfast as we remember the ways in which mass movements for rights and liberation have strengthened our struggling democracy for decades. We continue to be encouraged by Indigenous-led resistance movements, the Movement for Black Lives and the Me Too movement that illustrate how people have been and are ready and willing to fight for justice in the United States. We will not stop until there is accountability, justice, and liberation for all.

Moreover, it has never been more clear that we must continue our collective efforts for intersectional movement building— there is no climate justice without racial, economic, immigrant and gender justice. There will be no true forward motion without all of us and our interlocking movements working together.

We carry hope as we look to the future. This election we saw historic voter turnout, milestone wins for LGBTQ+ candidates, a record number of Native American women elected to the House of Representatives, Missouri’s first Black congresswoman, and of great significance, the first Black, South Asian American woman to be elected to Vice President, Kamala Harris. 

Decades of organizing is coming to fruition. Yet, there is a reckoning coming, and it will take multiple strategies and actions to dismantle the systems that no longer serve us and to instead, build the world we know is possible and desperately needed. 

As we meet this present moment we know we are not alone. Internationally, from Nigeria to Chile to Belarus, feminist people’s movements are leading the fight for fully inclusive democracies through nonviolent demonstrations and civil disobedience. In the U.S., grassroots organizing has been building to this moment and coalitions have emerged with plans to powerfully rebuild our society and support communities and Mother Earth. 

Whether it is the principles for a Feminist Green New Deal where WECAN sits on the Steering Committee, or the comprehensive THRIVE agenda for socio-economic renewal generated by the Green New Deal Network, or Climate Justice Alliance’s vision for a People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy— peoples movements are coming together and leading the way toward a just and transformative society. 

The Biden Administration has re-affirmed the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, but we know this is not enough. We are poised to pressure the new Administration along with organizational partners to take immediate action on several executive actions on the climate crisis and implement a plan to put us back on track toward urgent global climate targets. We also call for the new Administration to acknowledge who delivered this victory by uplifting and supporting Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian leadership and frontline communities.

As the election passes, and we look toward a new year, we will continue to work ceaselessly alongside so many passionate and courageous activists, organizers, and visionary leaders as we fight for our beloved communities and Mother Earth. We are fighting for forests that continue to be maimed, logged and destroyed; for the end of fossil fuels; for the proliferation of renewable and just energy; for the rise of a new economy grounded in community and care; for Black liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, Immigrant rights; for the Rights of Nature; for comprehensive and inclusive healthcare; for current and future generations to have a place not only to survive but to thrive; and for the dreams of liberation and freedom that sit seeded within the deepest parts of our hearts, pushing forth a renewed society and system that does not have sacrifice people or sacrifice zones, but recognizes the inherent dignity and rights of every being on this planet. 

We knew in our bones this time was coming, and now we must act boldly more than ever, continuing to build a powerful movement founded on principles of justice, love, and a fierce dedication to our planet and each other.
Thank you for supporting WECAN's work throughout the years, please consider donating today to support our work as we uplift the solutions and leadership of women worldwide and accelerate a global climate justice movement.
For the Earth and All Generations,

Women's Earth and Climate Action Network
(WECAN) International Team