Animal welfare

Experts call on governments to start including animal welfare in sustainable development governance

Scientists and other experts are calling on governments to start including animal welfare in the governance of sustainable development now to work towards a healthier, more resilient and more sustainable world for all.

The journal CABI One Health published a commentary from a team of experts ahead of the United Nations Stockholm+50 Conference on June 2-3, 2022. The commentary explains why animals are important for sustainable development and why development sustainability is important for animals, and calls on governments to “recognize the importance of animal welfare for sustainable development, and to aspire to do less harm to animals and bring more benefits to them as part of governance of sustainable development”.

As of May 23, 2022, the comment has already been supported by more than 180 experts in politics, law, ethics and science.

Stockholm+50 will commemorate the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and celebrate 50 years of global environmental action. The event aims to serve as a springboard to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Framework global biodiversity post-2020. It also aims to encourage the adoption of post-COVID-19 green recovery plans.

However, the commentary points out that in the 50 years since the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, animal welfare continues to be neglected in the governance of sustainable development. As a striking example, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes 169 goals, some of which deal with the protection of animal species, biodiversity and habitats. However, the Agenda does not take animal welfare into account. According to the authors, this is a significant oversight.

“Human, animal, and environmental health are intertwined,” explained Jeff Sebo, clinical associate professor of environmental studies, affiliate professor of bioethics, medical ethics, philosophy, and law, and director of the master’s program in animal studies. at New York University, and a senior commentary author. “Governments must take action to include animals in the governance of sustainable development for the benefit of human and non-human animals.”

As an example of how our treatment of animals affects our ability to achieve sustainable development, the commentary points out that animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. He also notes that in most cases, animal agriculture consumes “much more land and water” and produces “much more waste and pollution” than plant-based alternatives.

The commentary points out that the industrial farming of animals also contributes to the emergence of infectious diseases. This food system keeps pets in cramped conditions and uses too many antibiotics to stimulate growth and suppress disease, allowing infectious diseases to grow and spread. The current outbreaks of avian flu, which have already led to the slaughter of millions of birds around the world, illustrate this risk all too well.

“COVID-19 reminds us that industries like factory animal farming and the wildlife trade not only injure and kill many animals a year, but also contribute to global health and environmental threats that threaten us. put all of them at risk,” said Cleo Verkuijl, a researcher at Stockholm Environment. Institute and the other main author of the commentary.

The commentary highlights the “One Health” approach – which recognizes the links between human, animal and environmental health – as a “promising framework for improving global health”, but notes that “standard interpretations of One Health are “anthropocentric, in that they tend to value nonhuman animals primarily for the benefit of humans, which can lead to policies that unnecessarily harm and neglect nonhumans.”

The experts welcome other signatories to their call for governments to recognize the “intrinsic value of animals and consider their interests when making policy decisions that affect them”. They also call on governments to “support information, financial and regulatory policies that reduce our use of animals and increase our support for animals in co-beneficial ways”, and to reflect the importance of animal welfare in Stockholm+ 50 and other United Nations results. documents.

“For both high-income and low-income countries, improving animal welfare has significant environmental, health and economic benefits,” said Maria José Hötzel, Professor of Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare. being animal at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. “Governments cannot afford to wait another 50 years to take this issue seriously,” she added.

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