Rabies is a disease that is almost always fatal, killing 59,000 people and countless animals per yeari. However, rabies is also a disease which is entirely preventable with modern vaccines. Despite this, rabies continues to disproportionally affect marginalized and impoverished communities, with 95% of rabies deaths occurring in Asia and Africa. Additionally, 99% of human fatalities are the result of infection from rabid dogs. This unfortunate disease vector leads to millions of animals being killed, often inhumanely, in a futile effort to prevent future infections.
The Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa (AWSA) has now been endorsed, and the African Platform for Animal Welfare (APAW) launched. These groundbreaking events took place in a dedicated meeting at the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (24th-25th July 2017).
The African Union’s Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), which spearheaded this initiative, advises that the AWSA will now be submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) organs and to African Ministers in charge of livestock in October 2017.
From July 10-20, I attended the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the United Nations. The HLPF is the UN’s platform for review of progress in sustainable development. It also is intended to strengthen the science-policy interface and identify emerging issues.
The final regional preparatory meeting of the UN’s 2017 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) took place in Addis Ababa from 17-19 May 2017, hosted by the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa. Being based in South Africa, I attended this on behalf of World Animal Net (WAN), after discovering that no other African Animal Protection Organisations (APOs) were planning to attend.
As the UN’s 2017 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) draws near, regional preparatory meetings that feed into the HLPF are taking place around the world. Just two weeks ago, from 3-5 May, the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development took place in Rabat, Morocco. We were pleased to partner with RAPAD Morocco (the French acronym for the Associative Network for Animal Welfare and Sustainable Development), a national federation covering both animal protection and sustainability issues based in Morocco, who was able to attend the Forum and ensure that animals had a voice there.
Animal Protection Organizations (APOs) across the world were once again disappointed when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by UN member countries back in September 2015. These included no specific mention of Animal Welfare (AW), and no recognition of animal sentience. Instead, animals were lumped in with “natural resources”, and treated as if they were no more than inanimate objects to be divvied up for human use and profit. We were not alone in our disappointment, as other NGOs also pointed to the anthropocentric nature of the goals, and the fact that they overlook the central importance of nature and animals to our world and our humanity.