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.
As the leading intergovernmental organization promoting human and environmental rights, you would have expected the United Nations (UN) to give proper consideration to animal welfare issues – particularly bearing in mind the many cross-cutting issues involved and the number of intersections between animal welfare and human rights and the environment. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.