At the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the World Federation for Animals (WFA) and its members advocated for recognising animal welfare’s pivotal role in achieving sustainable development. The HLPF was held at the United Nations Headquarters from 10 to 20 July 2023.
A key focus for the WFA was the UN Member States’ negotiations of the forthcoming Political Declaration. In response to the WFA’s calls and persistent advocacy, the most recent draft of the Declaration includes a commitment to protecting wildlife. WFA will continue to advocate for further broadening this commitment to safeguard other living species as well.
Jessica Bridgers, Deputy CEO of WFA, who moderated a side event with authors of the Global Sustainable Development Report during the HLPF, highlighted, “Protecting wildlife and other living species is not just an environmental imperative; it is a moral responsibility and a key pillar of sustainable development. Each species plays a unique role in our delicate ecosystem. Preserving these diverse forms of life ensures a resilient planet.”
In a significant step backwards, the HLPF removed an explicit reference to the One Health approach for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response strategies, which had been included in an earlier draft. The One Health approach recognises the interconnectedness of the health and well-being of people, animals, plants, and ecosystems. Previous Ministerial Declarations in 2021 and 2022 have acknowledged the interdependencies between human, animal, and environmental health.
“Omitting the promotion of One Health in the Political Declaration signifies a concerning decision by UN Member States to overlook a science-based approach to sustainable development that increases the resilience of communities vulnerable to zoonotic outbreaks worldwide,” commented Dr. James Yeates, CEO of WFA.
WFA and its members will continue to engage UN Member States to further support the adoption of an ambitious and impactful Political Declaration at the SDG Summit in September 2023. At the Summit, heads of state and government will conduct a comprehensive review of the state of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and endorse the Declaration, providing political guidance to accelerate their delivery.
Jackson Zee, Co-Leader of the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster, said “This is a critical year for protecting human rights and animal welfare during the mid-term review at the United Nations. The upcoming UNFSS Stocktaking 2+ in Rome this month, the SDG summit in September, and UNFCCC CoP 28 will be very important to continue to recognise the linkages between the rights and well-being of people and animals. After last year’s landmark UN Environment Assembly resolution on the relationship between animal welfare, sustainable development, and the environment was adopted, the 2023 HLPF Political Declaration must also fully recognise the key principles of the Resolution, which includes recognising the importance to One Health.”
About WFA: WFA represents more than 50 NGOs from around the world working towards the recognition of animal welfare as an essential component of the sustainable development agenda. Founded by 19 leading animal protection organisations in December 2021, the Federation focuses on integrating animal welfare into international health, food, and environmental regimes, as well as in trade, subsidies, and development finance rules.
About the HLPF: The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The theme was “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.” In 2023, the HLPF is expected to adopt one negotiated Political Declaration, covering the different functions of its sessions held under the auspices of ECOSOC and in the SDG Summit, under the auspices of the General Assembly. The latest version of the Declaration is available here.
Photo Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media