Preparing the ground for UNEA 5.1.



Sustainable Development

This previous World Federation for Animals (WFA) blog on “The top reasons to promote advocacy for animals at UNEA 5.1” explained the importance of UNEA, as the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, and the fact that due to COVID-19 this year’s UNEA will take place in two sessions – a virtual session this month covering essential operational matters (UNEA 5.1.) and a resumed in-person session covering substantive matters in February 2022.

The World Federation for Animals (WFA) has been working hard in the run-up to UNEA 5.1. to ensure that animal welfare and animal issues are on the agenda! See below for information on some of our work and results in the various preparatory meetings.

Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR)

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) is composed of all accredited permanent representatives to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and it meets throughout the year, preparing all UNEA meetings.

WFA has been active in attending and participating in CPR meetings. It also regularly submits submissions and proposals. Here is our latest submission on the UNEP Medium-Term Strategy and Programme of Work. This includes:

  • Animals: The need to specifically include animal welfare and animal issues;
  • Pandemic Prevention: Rethinking and reordering our relationship with, and treatment of, nature and animals; and addressing the main drivers of pandemics in transformative change;
  • One Health-One Welfare: The need for more detail on how this will be used in proactive policy-making and coordinated action across policy bodies; and

Terminology: A plea that the phrase “building back better” is replaced by “building forward better”.

Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF)

The Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) helps Major Groups and Stakeholders (civil society in its many forms) to prepare their input and participation for UNEA.

WFA played an active role in the GMGSF which took place online from 9-11 February 2021. Our engagement consisted of:

  • Sending our written contribution on the Medium-Term Strategy and Programme of Work to working group leaders in advance;
  • Making a presentation on this at the plenary meeting;
  • Taking part in a number of working groups, pressing for the inclusion of animals and animal issues; and
  • Making a major contribution to the drafting of the common position.

The final version of the position is located here.

This includes multiple mentions of animals and animal issues, including:

  • Existing economic and development paradigms need to be rethought prioritising the wellbeing of people, animals and nature over infinite economic growth;
  • Incorporate animal health and welfare in UNEP policymaking and programmes;
  • incorporate the One Health-One Welfare approach;
  • Recognition that zoonotic diseases are the result of current unsustainable production and consumption patterns and humankind’s vulnerable relationship with nature and animals;
  • Lengthy and supportive statements on oceans and the need for food system transformation;
  • The need for a contraction and convergence to a healthy low level of animal sourced foods and predominantly plant based diet;
  • The need for understanding on the risks of industrial fisheries and aquaculture; and
  • The inclusion of animals in text on conflicts.

Also, note the title of “Building Forward Better: Action is Urgently Needed”, based on the WFA submission (and thanks to the inspiration of Sabine Lennkh, Legislative and Policy Advisor)!

There is further information on the meeting proceedings in this GMGSF Bulletin from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and their article on Major Groups and Stakeholders Call for UNEP to “Build Forward Better”.

Open-Ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR)

The fifth meeting of the Open-Ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives took place from 15-18 February 2021. This was the final preparation meeting of member states for UNEA 5.1., with the participation of stakeholders.

There was a statement made by a representative of the GMGSF, summarising the position of Stakeholders (as above).

It was also possible for WFA to make an intervention, and we focussed on the need to include animal welfare and animal issues in UNEP’s strategy and work programme, and

in wider policy analysis and transformative change. We stressed that problems affect more than health, but every aspect of human, animal and environmental well-being. That is why the more expansive and progressive term “One Welfare” should be used.

There is full coverage of each day of the meeting by IISD here.

UNEA 5.1.

UNEA 5.1. will take place on 22-23 February 2021, and a number of WFA representatives will be attending.

More about this shortly!

Written by

Janice Cox

Policy Advisor at WFA

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