Report shows banks lack of policies to prevent investments in animal cruelty



A new report released this December 6th by international NGO Sinergia Animal and social enterprise Shifting Values shows that almost half of banks and investors evaluated have no policy to prevent the worst forms of animal cruelty when deciding on their loans and funding.


The document, launched along with the interactive platform banksforanimals.org, assessed policies of 69 banks and investors from 19 different countries across five continents (Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America).


From those, 90% obtained less than half of the total achievable score, composed of 21 criteria such as prohibition of mutilations and confinement of farmed animals in cages, animal testing and wildlife trade. Almost half of the institutions did not get one single point.


“We are urging banks to adopt stronger policies to prevent some of the worst practices against animals. This is of vital importance for the animals, but it is also a risk mitigating strategy for the financial institutions themselves,” explains Merel van der Mark, finance and animal welfare manager at Sinergia Animal, an international animal protection organization working in countries of the Global South to reduce the suffering of farmed animals and promote more compassionate food choices. She states that being linked to financing factory farms, for example, can be a serious reputational risk.


The assessed banks from the countries where Sinergia Animal works scored very poorly. Chilean and Thai banks all scored 0%, Argentinian banks scored an average of 0.6%, Indonesian banks an average of 1.6%, Colombian banks an average of 1.8% and Brazilian banks scored 4.3% on average.


Currently, the top five banks with policies that significantly take animal welfare into account are the Dutch banks Triodos and de Volksbank, both with 95% of the points. They are followed by Australian Ethical (74%), and the Dutch ABN Amro (57%) and ING Group (55%).


More transparency to the financial sector


The aim of the Banks for Animals project is to increase transparency in the financial sector, encourage private financial institutions to improve their policies towards better practices when it comes to the treatment of animals, and also support a transition towards plant-based food systems.


Policies that foment animal welfare and plant-based diets work as protocols that guide each bank when deciding where to invest their money. If the institution has a strong animal welfare policy, it means they should abstain from financing certain practices and activities considered to be the cruelest to animals.


The same has already happened with other areas of concern, such as human rights and the environment. “Banks are already much more advanced when it comes to policies on fossil fuels or deforestation. We hope this report will encourage them to also make progress for animals,” comments Merel.


Interactive platform allows users to send message asking better policies from their banks


The website banksforanimals.org brings the bank's social media accounts and other contact forms, so people can message these institutions to demand better policies – or to congratulate the ones that already have good standards in place.


It also provides the users an updated ranking on how each bank scores in regards to animal welfare policies, as well as a system to compare banks, which can be useful for people when deciding from which bank they will become clients.


“Banks use our money to make investments. They keep the money clients leave in their accounts and, at the same time, offer credit for businesses and other people as loans. These loans can be used for a variety of different purposes, among them some that can harm animals tremendously,” explains Merel.


The website was developed in a partnership with Tech to the Rescue, Gerere and Netguru. “It was part of a pro-bono program that intends to show how technology can be used for good, to build a better world", says Jacek Siadkowski, Managing Director for Tech To The Rescue.


The platform is published on open source license, which means its code can be reproduced in other contexts for free, which was intended to encourage innovation in the third sector.