Open letter: International development banks must stop funding industrial livestock farming
Over 30 organisations including the Global Forest Coalition have signed an open letter (also copied below) to the Chief Executive Officer of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) calling on them to align their finances with the Paris Agreement by committing to a strategy that phases out the financing of industrial meat and dairy production.
Considering the threat of the climate emergency, the shocking levels of forest destruction for livestock and feedstock production and the imperative to “build back better” following the global pandemic, it is vital that both the IFC and EBRD follow through with these actions. For a future that protects and sustains all livelihoods globally, there is no reason to finance unsustainable livestock production.
The Guardian has also published details of an investigation into the huge amounts of funding that IFC and EBRD have recently directed towards industrial meat and dairy, revealing that pig, poultry and beef farming, as well as dairy and meat processing, have received $2.6bn in the past 10 years.
You can also read a blog by Feedback that makes the case against finance for factory farms.
International development banks must stop financing industrial livestock and feedstock farming!
Philippe Le Houérou
International Finance Corporation
2121 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC
Sir Sumantra Chakrabarti
European Bank For Reconstruction and Development
One Exchange Square
(by email) 2020 2nd of July
In a time of climate crisis, public finance institutions such as the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have an urgent responsibility to align their lending with the goals of the Paris Agreement. As calls come from economists and environmentalists alike to “build back better” following the pandemic, it is essential that we include agriculture in considerations of how we finance a sustainable future.
Experts project that the livestock sector will account for almost half (49%) of the world’s emissions budget for 1.5°C by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Business-as-usual is clearly not an option. Increased deforestation for cattle ranching and feed grains in the global South, as illustrated by the rapidly increasing deforestation rates in the Amazon and other biomes, is also contributing significantly to increased greenhouse gas emissions at a time when the IPCC suggests that ecosystem restoration is critical to keeping warming to 1.5°C . These trends are also exacerbating existing inequalities as indigenous peoples and local communities face displacement, criminalization and violence.
To meet the steep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, and to ensure that human rights are protected by reducing the pressure on land and landgrabs, global livestock numbers need to fall substantially.
Yet, the current growth trajectory of industrial animal agriculture has been supported by public financing from the development banks which you both lead. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided up to $2.6 billion in finance for pig, poultry and beef farming operations, as well as dairy and meat processing, during the past ten years. Much of this financing went to support controversial ‘mega-farm’ style production in regions with high per-capita meat consumption – not to sustainable, climate-resilient and agroecological production.
This financing is in inherent contradiction with both the IFC and EBRD’s policies on a green transition. From the EBRD’s strategy for a Green Economy Transition, to the joint IDFC-MDB statement on alignment with the Paris Agreement, MDBs have a global responsibility to support low-carbon and climate resilient development. To truly meet the intent of these ambitions, international development finance must take seriously their intent to redirect financial flows ‘in support of transitions towards low-carbon and climate resilient sustainable development’, in the words of the joint IDFC-MDB statement on alignment with the Paris Agreement.
We have reached ‘peak livestock’. To align their finance with the Paris Agreement, MDBs including the IFC and the EBRD, have a huge task at hand. For animal agriculture, we ask the MDBs to:
- Commit to a strategy to align investments with ‘peak livestock’, ensuring an end to all financing in support of industrial meat and dairy production, including feed production.
- Ensure that investments are in line with human rights obligations and redirect financial support to sustainable, climate-resilient and agroecological production.
Not only would these two actions shift billions of dollars in unsustainable finance towards equitable climate solutions, they would reduce transition risk for EBRD and IFC client countries – as the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change puts it, industrial livestock production faces the greatest risks in climate breakdown. Leadership from the MDBs would send a clear signal to other public finance institutions, the private sector, markets, and governments to follow suit and help ensure the banks’ portfolios are working towards, and not against, a more equitable, just and sustainable food system.
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development
Center for Biological Diversity
CESTA / Amigos de la Tierra El Salvado
Compassion in World Farming
Eat For The Earth
Factory Farming Awareness Coalition
Friends of the Siberian Forests
Gender CC Southern Africa – Women for Climate Justice
Global Forest Coalition
Global Justice Ecology Project
Humane Society International
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
Institute for Sustainable Development Strategy (ISDS) Public Fund
Lean and Green Kids
Pivot Food Investment
Safe Food Advocacy Europe (SAFE)
Water Justice and Gender
World Animal Net
World Animal Protection