As we had worked many years on the issue of animal welfare and international financial institutions, we were particularly happy when the international animal welfare NGO Sinergia Animal approached us with a request to support them in their preparation of a report comparing the corporate policies of banks worldwide with regard to animal welfare aspects. On the 6th of December, this report and the associated website have been presented internationally.

The report assessed the policies of 69 banks and financial institutions from 19 different countries across five continents on the basis of 21 animal welfare aspects. Unsurprisingly, the results are dismal: Almost half of the banks and investors evaluated have no policy to prevent the worst forms of animal cruelty when deciding on their loans and funding. Only one in ten banks obtained more than half of the total achievable score.

Sinergia Animal is primarily working in countries of the Global South and has offices in several countries in South America and Southeast Asia. The assessed banks from these countries 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.

Among banks based in Europe, the scores cover the whole spectrum from light to dark. On the one hand, there are two Dutch banks – Triodos and de Volksbank – leading the ranking, with 95% and 93% of the points, respectively. Another three Dutch banks rank among the top 6, but with far less points: ABN Amro (57%), ING Group (55%) and Rabobank (50%), the latter being heavily engaged in financing animal agriculture. On the other hand, a large part of European banks did not score a single point, among them Banco Sabadell (ES), Crédit Agricole (FR), Credit Suisse (CH), Deutsche Bank (DE), Santander (ES), Société Générale (FR), and UBS (CH).

“It is very concerning to see that such large and internationally active banks lack many important policies when it comes to animal welfare, such as refusing to fund operations that confine animals in tiny cages and mutilate them without anesthesia and analgesics. There’s a lot of room for improvement, which some of their Dutch peers prove to be possible,” says Merel van der Mark, finance and animal welfare manager at Sinergia Animal.

“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, pointing to the fact that being linked to financing factory farms, for example, can be a serious reputational risk.

The website brings the banks’ social media accounts and other contact forms, so everyone can message these institutions to demand better policies – or to congratulate the ones that already have good standards in place. Take advantage of this opportunity!