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.
We are pleased to share a summary of the meeting that was shared with us by Ahmed Tazi, who attended the three-day Forum on behalf of RAPAD.
The first day of the forum was focused on Arab experiences and general policies. Speakers focused on how to move from discussion to action, reaffirmed that development is a right for all, and noted that each country in the region is confronted by major obstacles. It was agreed that a concentration on practical methods is necessary to eradicate poverty in the Arab world.
The second day of the forum consisted of various smaller sessions that focused on topics including poverty, gender, environment, demography and food security.
We were pleased to hear that Ahmed was able to give a brief speech at the Food Security and Environment session:
“I would like to thank all the speakers and say that this concept of integrating the environmental dimension into the objectives of sustainable development is very important.
Nature is a "silent victim" as you have mentioned, and for this reason the Arab countries must reflect on sufficient economic development that respects the human, environmental and animal welfare.
To avoid the degradation of our environment, we must think about the problem of intensive farming, irrigation, waste of water, and agricultural methods ... to conserve biodiversity and sustainable environmental development.
When I say sustainable, it does not mean intensifying and increasing production to the detriment of the land, the animals, environment and its well-being, and to the detriment of climate change and environmental problems...
I think that the Arab world must think about living in harmony with its environment and its animals.
This will allow it a sustainable development under a ‘holy and peaceful environment,’ like it is mentioned in our Holy Quran."
Ahmed noted that several attendees shared this point of view.
Other points that were made during the food security session included:
- That agriculture in Morocco contains a mix of modern and traditional methods;
- That Arab countries must collaborate and take advantage of international research;
- That demographic development, unemployment, absence of young people in decision-making positions are all challenges that will have to be faced;
- That the world could have food security by year 2030; and
- The use of new technology in the field of agriculture and food security.
Day 3 consisted largely of political speeches, and unfortunately animals welfare and its relationship to humans and the environment was completely absent from the discussion. However, it was noted that 70% of those attending the Forum will be attending the HLPF in July, and so there is further opportunity to reach out about this issue at the HLPF.
We are thrilled that RAPAD Morocco was able to participate in the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development and take the opportunity to ensure that animal welfare is noted among the leaders there. While it is disheartening that animal welfare is thoroughly overlooked in forums such as this, we choose to look at this as an opportunity to ensure that in the future this is not the case, and we are pleased that there are voices like RAPAD Morocco across the world who are willing and able to make the case.
Stay tuned for more news leading up to the High Level Political Forum, and for an update from Janice Cox, who will be attending the Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week!
Photo credit: Ahmed Tazi, RAPAD Morocco