This is a bold step that should provoke other policy bodies to recognize the sentience of animals as it is inextricably linked to the conservation of the environment and promotion of people’s livelihoods.
March 2nd, 2022, is a historic day! A major UN Body for the first time in history, adopted a resolution on Animal Welfare. The drafting process which began in 2019 concluded with the ultimate tabling of the resolution by Seven countries: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Senegal, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Democratic Republic of Congo with a near global consensus at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) taking place in Nairobi.
The resolution is a concept that outlines how the exploitation and inhumane use of animals is a key driver of the triple environmental crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution, as well as the emergence of pandemics such as the current global COVID-19 pandemic. It also looks at how the integration of animal welfare in the work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) would benefit the delivery of its Medium-Term Strategy and Programme of Work as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the urgency in this regard for the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to consider the adoption of the resolution.
The sustainable development agenda set out in UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1 envisaged a world in which “Humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected.” However, dedicated action to protect animals and their welfare in the UN policy process has been insufficient to date, with devastating consequences for biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution and global public and environmental health.
The resolution is aimed at making sure improving animal welfare is fully incorporated into the UNEP Programme of Work in an integrated manner and deliver actions that are needed to reshape our consumption and production patterns towards sustainability.
It has links to a list of existing UNEA resolutions and governing council decisions, the implementation of which will be facilitated by promoting animal welfare as an essential and integral policy concern in relation to the three strategic objectives of UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy.
The adoption of animal welfare within UNEP’s policy mandate will help broaden and enrich its science-policy base, leading to better-informed and more effective policymaking and programme development. It will also help with the achievement of many SDGs and the prevention of future pandemics.
Over the last two years, World Animal Protection has been part of a Technical Team that has supported the seven sponsoring countries in the process of conceptualizing the resolution and promoting buy-in from other member states. We look forward to working with the UNEP, the Tripartite and all other stakeholders on the implementation of this all-important resolution.
The 6th Session of the UNEA will be held at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi from 26th February to 1st march 2024.