At times, it’s not that difficult. For example: Which figure is the larger one – 85,000 or 35 million? When a large development bank is not able to answer this, Shifting Values marches out for clarification.

Since 2012, Shifting Values has been dealing with international financial institutions (IFIs) and their capital grants for the construction of huge intensive animal farming facilities in transition economies. One of these institutions is the EBRD, a London-based development bank with nearly 70 shareholder states, including all EU member states.

In assessing applications for capital grants, the EBRD has to follow, among others, its Environmental and Social Policy. Projects that may “result in potentially significant adverse future environmental and/or social impacts” are categorised “A” and have to undergo an environmental impact assessment. To help with classification, the policy gives thresholds as examples. These include installations with more than 85,000 places for broilers, 60,000 places for hens, 3,000 places for pigs over 30 kg, or 900 places for sows.

So far, so easy. But when we take a look at projects that the EBRD (co)financed with the public monies entrusted on the bank, things become unclear. In Ukraine, we find Europe’s largest broiler complex (35 million places for broilers, >250 million euro from the EBRD) and facilities with places for more than 100,000 pigs, in Georgia a project with an annual capacity of around 14 million broilers (the exact figures are not known, as the EBRD is also characterised by a high level of opacity). None of these projects was categorised “A”.

Maybe you are now rubbing your eyes, asking yourself: How is that possible? We have this same question and therefore filed an official complaint with the EBRD, asking for a review of compliance with the bank’s own policy.

Everybody makes a mistake from time to time. We at Shifting Values made a mistake, too: In 2014, we commended the EBRD for being the first IFI to include animal welfare in its policy, which demands that at least the EU minimum standards must not be undercut. Today we have to ask ourselves: Has it been more than just eyewash? The pig fattening company mentioned above observed the (already awfully weak) EU standards only in two of its ten facilities. And a milk production project in Turkey involves solitary confinement of calves up to three months of age. These violations of the EBRD policy are part of our complaint, too.

We are curious about the EBRD’s answer and will report again.

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