Animal welfare and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Paris, France, 26 and 28 April, and 4 May 2021 (Virtual)
The third OIE Animal Welfare Global Forum explored whether improvements in animal welfare can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The OIE Animal Welfare Global Forum, a key activity of the OIE Global Animal Welfare Strategy (GAWS), aims to bring together representatives from the global animal welfare community to foster dialogue on challenging animal welfare topics.
The internationally adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envision a future in 2030 without poverty and hunger and protected from the worst effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity. Despite the SDGs having a broad scope, any reference to the contribution of domesticated animals, wild animals, and aquatic animals is limited, and animal welfare is not mentioned at all.
Noting that one of the objectives of the OIE Seventh Strategic Plan (2021–2025) is to contribute to achieving the SDGs, this year’s OIE Forum, entitled, ‘Animal welfare and the UN Sustainable Development Goals’, opened up a dialogue on the role of animals, their health and welfare in achieving these goals. Organised in collaboration with the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU), the OIE Forum explored whether improvements in animal welfare can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and vice versa. A key part of the Forum measured how participants viewed the relationship between animal welfare and each of the SDGs using a semi-quantitative scoring system, along with qualitative comments. The methodology used had been developed by the SLU in a previous forum.
The programme (available on the OIE website), included a welcome address from OIE Director General, Dr Monique Éloit, and several presentations to immerse participants in the topic, including break out group sessions. Divided into small groups, participants were asked to score the link between animal welfare and the SDGs and vice versa, individually and then as a group, and to discuss the rationales for their scores. Prof. Linda Keeling from SLU presented the preliminary results of the exercise.
Overall, the scoring indicated a strong positive impact on animal welfare in achieving SDGs and a positive impact on the SDGs in improving animal welfare, in four of the SDGs: 3. ‘Good health and wellbeing’, 12. ‘Responsible consumption and production’, 14. ‘Life below water’ and 15. ‘Life on land’. While scoring for SDGs 5 . ‘Gender equality’, 7. ‘Affordable and clean energy’ and 10. ‘Reduced inequalities’ indicated a weak positive impact with lower scores but all still positive.
Dr Matthew Stone, OIE Deputy Director General on International Standards and Science summarised the key points raised during discussions, including the complexity of interactions that depend on the animal type considered, the influence of human preferences and behaviours, and the need to consider animal welfare in the context of policy and planning under each SDGs.
OIE Director General Dr Éloit, in her closing remarks, noted that the final results of this study (to be published the last trimester of 2021) would be considered by the OIE in its work programme on animal welfare to achieve the objectives of its 7th Strategic Plan and contribute to the SDGs.
OIE Animal Welfare Portal
OIE Global Animal Welfare Strategy