Opinion: Inspiring financial institutions to accelerate the protein transition

18 October 2021

Following Eerlijke Geldwijzer (Fair Finance Guide Netherlands)’s report from May on the need for a protein transition, two weeks ago, in validation of it and its’ findings, Dutch Minister for Agriculture and Food, Carola Schouten fully endorsed the report saying “I call on financial institutions to take up and, where possible, implement the content and recommendations of the Fair Bank Guide report”. The report focused on the urgent need for this transition and the benefits of a plant based diet. It is not a “classical” report, where we ranked the banks. Inspiration was key.

As a follow-up to the report on the 28th September Fair Finance Guide Netherlands hosted a webinar with a range of banks, insurance companies and pension funds. The goal of this webinar was to inspire and showcase the disbalance in our diets that evolved over the last decades, as seen in the image below. The three layers that diverge represent the imbalance that has arisen over the past 50 years: the pink meat mountain above and the yellow cheese mountain below have grown enormously, where these previous decades were in proportion to the vegetable share. The aim is to bring these three back into balance in the run-up to 2050.

The webinar led to questions from the financial sector to our experts indicating interest and goodwill; many see the need for a protein transition and are looking for the best way to shape it.

The question is not if we need to change, but when and how. There is some awareness about the energy transition and the need to end fossil fuel use and move to sustainable energy sources. However when it comes to the farming industry and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that pollute our earth and harm biodiversity, there seems to be less sense of urgency. Even without discussing the poor animal welfare in this sector, the farming industry needs to decrease in size in order to achieve climate goals and prevent further loss of biodiversity.

Financial institutions can play a key role in accelerating this transition by, for example, shifting their investments and loans and actively supporting new companies that can help accelerate the protein transition; and incentivize companies in the food sector to transition towards more plant-based and alternative protein production through attractive financial products.

At this moment only Triodos has a concrete strategy on protein transition. We encourage financial institutions to take on this urgent transition and create concrete strategies to get up to speed with the shift to more plant-based diets. We aim for a reduction of 50% in animal proteins by 2040 for humans, animals and the earth.

Last week the UN Biodiversity Conference took place digitally. Next year it will continue in Kunming, China. Protein transition should also be an urgent topic here. In order to continue to focus on this shift in the future, the Fair Money Guide will publish a biodiversity study in May 2022 in which we look at investments and policy by insurers on biodiversity and three sectors, in which animal production will also play an important role. To be continued!

The Fair Money Guide and World Animal Protection will continue to work on financing and investing in a protein transition in the coming period.

Julia Bakker, World Animal Protection NL and Eerlijke Geldwijzer