Animal welfare is a key ESG theme
Long-term value creation relies on sustainability. This is now being recognised by more and more financial institutions, who are taking steps to improve their sustainability by improving their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) efforts.
Animal welfare aligns with many facets of ESG. The current food system overlooks animal welfare, the environment, and human health, which drives global risks such as climate change, biodiversity loss, antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic disease.
These are grave risks not only to the natural world and human health, but also to investors. In the medium- and long-term, these risks can have a material impact on companies. Furthermore, stronger policy responses are expected over the coming decade and the global economy fundamentally relies on healthy ecosystems and people.
In short, the food system is a key driver of serious global risks. To mitigate these risks, we need a fundamental transformation in how we produce food.
Trend toward more stringent environmental regulations, alongside animal welfare regulation
Environmental regulation will significantly affect larger integrated processors - most of them use cages and crates
Environmental concerns are mostly in relation to animal agriculture in general
Increased consumer demand for higher welfare products and alternative proteins
Global health pandemics and public concerns about animal welfare
Social implications of supporting "big ag" versus small- and medium-sized farmers; resiliency and adaptation
Workforce health, safety and training
Is the company acting in the best interest of shareholders if it ignores animal welfare?
Are you upholding your fiduciary responsibility if you're not considering animal welfare?
Lack of proper reporting as it relates to animal welfare - signaling poor traceability and management
Animal welfare and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by the members of the United Nations in 2015. They state: “We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path." Care for animal welfare helps to achieve benefits for all the pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social.
The 2030 Agenda envisages a development model “in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and … other living species are protected.” The SDGs recognise that the welfare of people depends on the welfare of ecosystems, and animals are a critical part of our global ecosystem.
The overuse of antibiotics in many intensive farming systems is driving antimicrobial resistance, which poses a further threat to the attainment of the SDGs. The UN Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance has stated that the SDGs cannot be achieved if antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is not addressed with greater urgency.
Unless we make significant changes, industrial animal agriculture will make it very difficult to meet the following SDGs: