The revision of the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies is in its final stages. On 20 July the World Bank published the third and last draft, which for the first time includes meaningful animal welfare standards and is scheduled to be adopted in August.

The Safeguard Policies are not only the “Environmental and Social Framework” for World Bank capital grants, but are also used by other financial institutions and the OECD to benchmark their projects.

Animal welfare was not even mentioned in previous versions of the Safeguard Policies. Humane Society International started a campaign in 2013 to incorporate animal welfare in the policies of international finance institutions and export credit agencies. Shifting Values has been working on this issue for HSI since then.

The first draft of the revised Safeguard Policies did for the first time account for animal welfare, although inadequately:

  • not binding
  • pointing to undefined “Good International Industry Practice”
  • not accounting for transport and slaughter

Over the course of the revision process several improvements were made. In particular, the paragraph on animal husbandry is now binding and refers to the IFC’s Good Practice Note on animal welfare which precludes some of the worst forms of farm animal exploitation.

The draft now reads:
The Borrower involved in large-scale commercial farming, including breeding, rearing, housing, transport, and slaughter, of animals for meat or other animal products (such as milk, eggs, wool) will employ GIIP(19) in animal husbandry techniques, with due consideration for religious and cultural principles.
(19) Such as the IFC Good Practice Note on Improving Animal Welfare in Livestock Operations.

One major remaining negative aspect is that the provision is restricted to “large-scale” (undefined) facilities. However, in total this paragraph (if adopted) is to be seen as a significant progress and a signal for other financial institutions.