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Wednesday, 09 January 2019 00:00

International Policy Update - January 2019

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The International Policy Update is a report we publish quarterly in consultation with the members of our International Policy Forum which covers recent events in international policy relating to animal welfare. The Update is also available as a newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. 

UN Environment Assembly

The theme for the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 4), scheduled for March 2019, is “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.” One of the focus areas of UNEA relates to sustainable food systems. Therefore, the theme presents a strong opportunity for animal protection organizations, particularly those working on food and farmed animal issues and the development of alternative sources of protein. UN Environment has prepared an information note about this theme, as well as a roadmap of activities leading up to UNEA 4.


There is now a zero draft of the Ministerial Declaration, the outcome document of UNEA. WAN collected and submitted comments on this draft from its International Policy Forum. The resolutions for UNEA are also now being proposed and consolidated, and can be reviewed here. It is notable that there is currently no proposed resolution that deals comprehensively with sustainable food systems, despite the fact that this is one of the key focus areas of UNEA.

There are still opportunities for Animal Protection Organizations (APOs) to influence the 2019 UNEA, and we recommend that any interested APOs obtain UN Environment accreditation now. WAN is happy to advise, and if you would like to join us in advocating at the 2019 UNEA please do contact us.

If you would like more information about UNEA, please take a look at our guidance document, which explains the acronyms, structure, and advocacy opportunities within this UN body.

Global Pact for The Environment

The Global Pact for the Environment aims to create an international treaty to act as an “umbrella text” joining the major principles of existing environmental conventions into one legally binding document establishing a “universal right to a healthy environment.” Its development has been led primarily by France and has been developed through an international network of over one hundred leading experts.

From 5 to 7 September an organizational meeting was held in New York to determine the modalities of the Open-Ended Working Group, the body that will be taking the Global Pact forward. This included the duration and number of future “substantive sessions.” The final report of these meetings is not yet available, but will be listed on the UN Environment website. The forthcoming substantive sessions will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, at UN Environment, the first of which is scheduled for 10-14 January.

The UN Secretary-General has now released a report in preparation for these meetings that “identifies and assesses possible gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments with a view to strengthening their implementation.”  

WAN’s International Policy Forum prepared a brief that was distributed to the Global Pact co-facilitators and supportive member states explaining how animal welfare and concomitant issues can and should be considered as a gap in environmental law. There was a positive response from a number of member states, and WAN is planning to meet with these at the January meetings along with attending IPF members.

Note that the countries that opposed the resolution establishing the process for the Global Pact were the Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Turkey, and the US, while Belarus, Iran, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Tajikistan abstained. China voted in favor.

If you would like to join World Animal Net in advocacy on the contents of the Pact, please contact us.

World Bank

The World Bank-led project on Good Animal Welfare Practice for Agriculture Development is now nearing completion of its guidance for implementing good animal welfare practices for pigs, with a focus on Low- and Middle-Income countries, and is beginning work on a set of guidelines for equine welfare, working closely with the International Coalition for Working Equids. WAN is on the project’s Steering Group, alongside the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Organisation for Animal Health, and Wageningen University.

While the World Bank’s Environment and Social Safeguards (ESS) include animal welfare, they do not provide any practical guidance. The proposed outcome of this project is a document that World Bank Team Task Leaders will use to ensure animal welfare is included in project considerations, including training, veterinary services, use of good practices and investment in infrastructure. The guidelines will also be used by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and available for use by other development bodies.

The outcome document will include two “tiers” of guidance. The first tier will focus on providing guidance on how the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare standards can be implemented in practice, as the standards can be rather vague and inaccessible to audiences with little experience in animal welfare. The second tier is called “Better Practices,” and is meant to outline those practices with better animal welfare outcomes, for example, eliminating the use of confinement housing for gestating sows.

African Union (AU)

World Animal Net (WAN) took part in the recent meeting of the Coordination Committee for Animal Welfare in Africa (CCAWA) (25-26 October 2018) organized by the African Union’s InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), and a joint meeting with the Bureau of the Pan-African Parliament and the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment (27 October 2018), which is one of ten permanent committees of the Pan African Parliament (PAP). Both meetings took place in Kigali, Rwanda.

This was the second meeting of the CCAWA, and its objectives were:

  • To plan for the first General Assembly of the African Platform for Animal Welfare (APAW).
  • To prepare the sensitization of the PAP Bureau and Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment on the Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa and the African Platform for Animal Welfare.
  • To discuss and agree on modalities of taking forward the animal welfare agenda in Africa.

The meeting was driven and ably prepared by AU-IBAR. It was agreed hold the first meeting of the African Platform for Animal Welfare in conjunction with the Pan African Parliament meeting scheduled for May 2019 in Midrand, Johannesburg. The theme for this meeting will be the “Compelling Case for Consciousness on Animal Welfare in Africa.” More information is available on the World Animal Net Blog.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Code Commission met in September to discuss the new chapters on the welfare of laying hens, humane slaughter of reptiles, and rabies. The International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW) is now collating comments on the following chapters:

  • Guiding principles for the use of measures to assess animal welfare (Article 7.1.4.)
  • Animal welfare and pig production systems (Chapter 7.13)
  • Draft new chapter on killing of reptiles for their skins, meat and other products (Chapter 7.Y)
  • Infection with rabies virus (Chapter 8.14.)
  • Draft new chapter on animal welfare and laying hen production systems (Chapter 7.Z)

The Comments are due by 14 January, and the next Code Commission Meeting will take place in February 2019.

ICFAW will continue to be chaired by Alex Hammond Seaman of the RSPCA through 2019, and Jessica Bridgers of WAN has been selected as ICFAW’s secretary from 2019 through 2020.

The next OIE Global Animal Welfare Forum will be held under the theme of Animal Transport. The provisional dates are 11-12 April, and attendance is by invitation only.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The Katowice Climate Conference, COP 24 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), took place from 2-14 December in Katowice, Poland.

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) hosted an official side event on 5 December which explored “the impacts of options like… large-scale biosequestration and shifting diets.” Brighter Green and GFC also hosted an exhibition at COP 24. 

Humane Society International hosted a side event on 13 September titled: “The mitigation potential of plant-based diets: from science to policy,” which provided “a toolkit of policy ideas to encourage a dietary shift towards more plant-based diets.”

Farm Forward, the Center for Biological Diversity and Brighter Green also published a report criticizing the meat-laden menu at COP24. This was covered by Bloomberg and Huffington Post, and more press materials are available on Brighter Green’s website.

Brighter Green also contributed a submission to the Talanoa Dialogue.

There are also important new reports related to animal agriculture and sustainable diets:

Interacademy Partnership – Global Food Systems are Failing Humanity and Speeding Up Climate Change

World Resources Institute – Creating a Sustainable Food Future

Convention on Biological Diversity

The UN Biodiversity Conference, COP 14, was held from 13-29 November 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, under the theme ‘Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet.’ A major topic of discussion at the conference was the process for developing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  An “intersessional open-ended working group” will deliberate on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, taking into account other global commitments, such as the 2030 Agenda. The post-2020 framework is expected to be adopted at the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference in October 2020 in Beijing, China.

During the High Level Segment (HLS) of the Conference, the Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration on Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet invited the UN General Assembly to convene a summit on biodiversity before CBD COP 15 in 2020. During the HLS, Christiana Pasca Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary, highlighted the need to shift the narrative away from “production and extraction, and towards co-existence, co-creating, and co-sharing.”

Overall, there were deep concerns expressed at the conference on the limited progress to achieve most of the Aichi targets by 2020, and broad recognition of the need to change the narrative around biodiversity, and build stronger momentum to halt its loss. Discussions relating to the management of natural resources, including wildlife, revolve around the socio-economic benefits for humans. The fact that the sustainable use agenda is heavily enshrined in CBD was demonstrated by the adoption of a voluntary guidance on a “sustainable wild meat sector.” There was significant discussion about mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into industrial and public sectors. While animal welfare concerns were widely ignored, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) hosted a side event exploring the links between animal welfare and human development and wellbeing.

A roadmap is now available for the period leading up to the 2020 Biodiversity Conference.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

The 70th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC70) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) took place from October 1-5 October in Sochi, Russia. Decisions made at the meeting included suspending the trade in African Grey Parrots and pangolin from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also compelled Japan to take remedial steps to comply with the convention with regards to sei whales, as Japan had been found to be “in clear violation of the convention.”

The next Conference of the Parties (CoP) 18 is scheduled to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 23 May to 3 June 2019.

In November, more than 30 countries in collaboration with CITES and the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), established the African Carnivore Initiative, a pan-African commitment to protecting African wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and lions.

Global Landscape Forum

The Global Landscapes Forum took place from 1-2 December in Bonn, Germany and aimed to “accelerate and mobilize collective action on the ground and enhance knowledge sharing with policy makers and other actors to identify new and green development pathways in landscapes.” The forum discussed strategies to realize global forest and landscape restoration targets, and El Salvador and the UN Environment Assembly former executive director, Erik Solheim, called for the decade 2021-2030 to be declared “the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration” by the UN General Assembly.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

A new Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report identifies agriculture as the biggest source of water pollution globally. The report is available on the FAO website.

Additionally, the FAO and the African Development Bank have partnered to raise US$100 million in five years for investments in Africa’s agriculture, using public-private partnerships to “transform agriculture into a business.” The FAO’s focus in the project includes “technical assistance in areas such as sustainable agricultural intensification and diversification.”

EU Strategy for a Sustainable Europe

The European Commission (EC) is preparing a report to guide the EU’s strategy for mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into EU policy and financing mechanisms. The strategy is intended to guide all EU policies and programs through 2030 using a “visionary and transformative approach” that “goes beyond the 2030 Agenda.” Key policy areas identified so far in stakeholder consultations are: “incentivizing and regulating sustainable consumption and production” and ensuring that all EU funding for food and farming is aligned with the EU’s Treaty. The development of this strategy may provide an avenue for animal welfare to be included. More information is available through IISD.

Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles

The European Commission and partners launched the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles in October. The principles are intended to implement SDG 14 by ensuring that ocean-related investments do not negatively impact oceans. More information can be found on IISD.

Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has partnered with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to strengthen enforcement at ports to reduce wildlife trafficking between Africa and Asia. The GEF also announced in October that it would increase its funding to combat wildlife trafficking by US$37 million over the next four years. This funding will assist African and Asian countries to prevent poaching and other countries to reduce consumer demand for wildlife products.

London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade

The 2018 London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, which convened over 80 governments, refreshed the commitment to tackle wildlife crime on a global level through the adoption of a declaration to address the illegal wildlife trade as “a serious, organized crime.”


Jessica Bridgers

Jessica is the Executive Director at World Animal Net. Having received a B.S. in biology with minors in chemistry and anthropology from the University of New Mexico, she combines a scientific background with a passion for animal protection. She completed her M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University and internships with Humane Society International, Animal Protection of New Mexico, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society before arriving at World Animal Net. In her free time, she volunteers with horse and wildlife rescues. 


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