We have published a policy requiring clients to meet animal welfare standards and broadening the range of activities that we won’t finance because of animal mistreatment.
The Five Freedoms
- Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
- Freedom to express normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear and (chronic) distress
The policy has been developed in close cooperation with our global business lines and in consultation with various external stakeholders.
Under the policy, clients in the animal husbandry sector will have to prove that animals are treated in line with the “Five Freedoms” (see box), among other requirements related to transport and stewardship, for example. Clients will be encouraged to seek continuous improvement and adhere to industry best practices.
ING also expanded the “exclusion” list of what we won’t finance, which includes, for example: anything where animals must fight for entertainment, any sponsorships where wild animals aren’t treated in line with the Five Freedoms, animal trades involving endangered species, use of endangered species or non-human primates for all testing purposes, and animal testing for cosmetic purposes.
The policy applies to companies managing farming activities (cattle, poultry, pigs, etc.) and fish hatcheries; those that trade or use endangered animals; animals in entertainment (zoos, circuses, household pet industry); and animals used in laboratory settings to advance human health.
Major global challenge
Companies operating in the animal husbandry sector face the challenge of meeting the increasing global food demand while minimising negative impacts to communities, the environment and the animals’ health. Therefore, how animals are treated is of particular interest in the food industry.
We provide financing to the global food industry, offering a wide range of products and services to the entire food chain, ranging from producers and traders to transport companies and those who handle and process food products. Food production is set to be a major challenge, as the global population is projected to grow to some 9.7 billion people in 2050.
“The food industry is only going to grow as the world’s population grows”, said ING CEO Ralph Hamers. “It’s important for companies to take a stand and exert influence where they can. We want to be clear on helping drive sustainable transitions for our corporate clients across all sectors we operate in. The new policy will guide our decisions for client engagement and assessing finance proposals in the animal husbandry sector going forward.”
At ING, every client and potential client is assessed against the requirements of our Environmental and Social Risk policies before we do business, followed by continuous monitoring and evaluation once we enter into agreement.
The same is true for the new animal welfare policy. In this regard, we work with our clients who don’t yet meet the policy’s requirements and help them transition their business until they do. Clients that are unwilling or incapable of meeting our requirements won’t be supported.
We strive to be transparent about the principles that guide our business decisions. Our position on animal welfare is part of a larger overview of what’s covered in the “Our stance” section, which also includes elements such as climate, defence and energy.