Animal welfare cannot be overlooked by Brazil’s financial institutions

26 July 2021

Accountability for animal welfare is becoming an indispensable part of responsible financing and investing.

The ethical treatment and welfare of farmed animals is now a prominent issue both in Brazilian society and internationally, with important implications for sustainable land use, bio-diversity and the threat of zoonoses. Fair Finance Guide Brazil recently assessed how the nine largest banks in Brazil approach responsible financing and investments linked to commercial animal farming. It found that only two - Banco do Brasil and Caixa - address animal welfare.

To explore this issue further, World Animal Protection (WSPA), member of Fair Finance Guide Brazil, recently held a webinar titled Animal welfare in business and investor strategies. Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) also supported the event. In attendance were experts including José Ciocca, Sustainable Agricultural Manager with World Animal Protection; Ione Amorim, economist and financial services program coordinator at Idec; Celso Funcia Lemme, Finance and Sustainability Specialist and Professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Elisa Tjärnström, BBFAW advisor and researcher on Corporate Engagement at Chronos Sustainability; and Annelise Vendramini, Sustainable Finance Research coordinator at FGV.

Participants discussed the importance of criteria for greater financial sector responsibility over investments linked to animal welfare.

“Consumers today want to know what a bank does with their money and how this can affect the consumer supply chain," explains Ione Amorim, highlighting the results of the latest Fair Finance Guide Brazil bank policy evaluation.

The two banks in Brazil that currently consider animal welfare as part of their investment approach, take action in two ways: Banco do Brasil analyzes the practices of the meat sector - poultry, beef and pork; and Caixa Econômica Federal applies its ‘Guide to Good Social and Environmental Practices for Livestock’. Nonetheless a lot more remains to be done, especially as the importance of animal welfare to the sustainability practices of the global financial sector increases.

“There is a growing debate in society about the importance of sustainability and animal welfare, and that these are not opposing but complementary agendas”, says José Ciocca, Sustainable Agricultural Manager from World Animal Protection Brazil.

From 2022 animal welfare will become an independent theme in Fair Finance Guide Brazil’s Bank Policy Assessments, providing a more in depth analysis of policies in this area.

Looking to the future, Ione Amorim highlights the importance of discussing policies to improve and standardize institutional responsibilities. "Transparency and dialogue are needed. There are many variables in this supply chain, in addition to looking at the role of the consumer. It will take continuous discussion to advance this issue forward."