By Catherine Chumo, Senior Information Officer – Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW)
The urgent need to place animal welfare at the center of international policy comes following years of working together to protect and conserve animals and facing immense challenges that have caused a negative impact to livelihoods globally. Clearly, not pursuing good welfare of animals has contributed to constant crisis situations that take place across the world.
We have initiated an impacting action to ensure that this gap is addressed. The largest global animal welfare organisations are leading a major global movement to lobby for the adoption of a resolution on ‘Animal Welfare for a Healthy, Humane and Sustainable Environment’ at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 5.2) which will take place in February 2022.
The Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), the World Federation for Animals (WFA) and the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) find it critical to have a resolution that will be supported by member states at the “Global Parliament for the Environment” – the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA). Our initiative follows the deliberations at the 3rd Africa Animal Welfare Conference 2019, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was organised and hosted by ANAW, UNEP, AU-IBAR and the Government of Ethiopia.
The three organisations have partnered to lobby and advocate for the resolution and are working together to urge animal welfare organisations from across the world to support the draft resolution that is already developed. A steering committee of the three organisations adopted a concept note and the resolution text on 25 February 2021, and the team adopted the negotiation and fundraising strategy on 18 March 2021 in anticipation of the forthcoming activities and events.
The initiative notes that international policy discussions involving member states have acknowledged that the protection and care of animals contributes to sustainable development of countries to a vast degree. Colossal challenges affecting human beings, animals and the environment are due to poor animal welfare practices. Poor welfare has caused the triple environmental crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution – and now also a worldwide public health crisis.
The dire need of this initiative is further emphasised as the welfare of animals has been highlighted as a key issue in previous resolutions passed, treaties, international strategies and declarations, impactful reports and established global standards. Despite all of these, animal welfare has not been addressed or fronted as critical in any UN international policy platform.
The Animal Welfare Resolution acknowledges this and therefore appeals to member states to acknowledge animals’ sentience, encourages national policies, legislation, and enforcement for the protection of animals, to recommit to protecting wildlife and other non-human animals, protecting their habitats and meeting their animal welfare requirements, to operationalise One Health and One Welfare, encourage the adoption of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW), and recognise 4 October as World Animal Day among other considerations.
Other organisations supporting the resolution include:
- Humane Society International
- World Animal Protection
- Compassion in World Farming (CIWF)
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
- Eurogroup for Animals
- The Brooke
- International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
- World Horse Welfare
- Donkey Sanctuary, and
- AU IBAR.
UNEP is an advisor to the process.
A majority of 97 member states is needed to support the resolution at UNEA 5.2. Organisations are urged to support this initiative and join the movement on the journey to adopt an animal welfare resolution at UNEA 5.2.