International policy and what it means for animals.
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April 2017

This brief overview of international animal protection policy developments has been compiled from information provided by World Animal Net (WAN)’s International Policy Forum.

Please share with your animal protection contacts and other stakeholders, and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments.
There is more background information about the International Policy Environment on our website here.

The World Bank

The World Bank hosted its Agriculture Global Practice Annual Forum from 6-9 March, 2017. The forum is an event hosted by and for the World Bank, which allows the Agriculture Global Practice division to share information, developments and build partnerships across the World Bank’s family of 14 Global Practices (the list of Global Practice divisions is available here). The theme of this year’s forum was “Tomorrow’s Agriculture – Starting Today” and explored topics that will affect agriculture through 2050, of which, the World Bank recognized that animal welfare will be a significant factor.

WAN’s Janice Cox was invited to speak on animal welfare at a Forum session on 8th March, which focused on animal health (particularly antimicrobial resistance) and welfare. Janice was the first speaker on animal welfare, tasked with setting the scene and exploring animal welfare as a societal issue. She included ethical, policy and development issues in her talk, and stressed the need for the development of best practice and implementation partnerships. Other speakers on animal welfare included the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). After the talks, speakers were given one minute to suggest what the World Bank could do to address the issues raised.

Juergen Voegele, Senior Director of the World Bank Agriculture Global Practice, closed the session on a positive note, stating that AW should be known, understood and adopted by World Bank staff, and promoted to all stakeholders and customers. Most importantly, Dr. Voegele announced that he would “accept the challenge put forward by Janice Cox” and confirmed that the World Bank would host an international stakeholder conference on AW and Development. World Animal Net has since received confirmation that the World Bank is working on the concept for this event, and that it will bring together multiple stakeholders and ensure proper participation from civil society. The focus will be on best practices and the main takeaway of this workshop will be an evidence basis for practical guidelines on animal welfare. This is a key issue that WAN has been advocating on for decades. More information about the conference is available here, and we will provide updates on the global conference as details are made available.

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Civil society organizations across the world are now working to hold their countries accountable for completing the work necessary to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets.  One way organizations can accomplish this is by participating in their Regional Forums on Sustainable Development (RFSDs) that lead up to the UN’s annual High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July. The HLPF is an avenue that reviews progress completed for each goal and the RFSDs are key opportunities for organizations to provide input.

Many RFSDs have already passed. However, there are still a few opportunities remaining:

25 April: ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) 2017 (Geneva, Switzerland)
26 April: ECLAC: Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development (LAC RFSD) (Mexico City, Mexico)
3-5 May: ESCWA Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) 2017 (Rabat, Morocco)
16-19 May: ECA Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

If you or your organization is interested and able to attend any of the above forums, please contact us for more information.

The 2017 HLPF is scheduled to take place from 10-19 July at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.”

Each year, the HLPF will focus on a subset of the SDGs, and this year’s focus will be on SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17. Of particular interest to APOs will be goals 2 and 14:

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
[Targets include increased investment for agricultural research and extension services.]

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
[Targets include minimizing ocean acidification and ending "overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices".] Please note that the UN is hosting The Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June to support implementation of Goal 14.

An important component of the HLPF, which holds countries accountable for progress on the SDGs, are Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). There are 40 countries signed up to submit their VNRs to the HLPF this year. Reviews are country-led, but rely heavily on partnerships and stakeholder participation, providing a pathway for civil society such as APOs to participate in their county’s work on the SDGs.

More information on the HLPF, RFSDs, and VNRs is available here.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW)

The International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW) represents international Animal Protection Organizations (APOs) at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). There is more about its work here. Humane Society International (HSI) currently chairs ICFAW, and World Animal Protection provides the secretariat. WAN is an active member. ICFAW supports the development and implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and works to ensure that animal welfare is fairly represented at events such as the recent Global Animal Welfare Conference and the OIE General Assembly.

Cooperation Agreement

The OIE and ICFAW have recently begun discussions regarding a cooperation agreement between the two bodies. The agreement will formalize ICFAW’s relationship with the OIE and provide guidelines on how the organizations can share information and work together in the future. A draft of the agreement is currently being discussed. Collaborating agreements between the OIE and other bodies, including the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA, now World Animal Protection), can be viewed on the OIE’s website

85th OIE General Assembly

The 2017 OIE General Assembly will take place in Paris from 21 to 26 May. During the assembly, OIE delegates vote on the approval of new standards, including those covering animal welfare. In addition, at the May assembly there will be a vote to disband the Animal Welfare Working Group (more information on this below).

Global Animal Welfare Conference

The OIE’s Global Animal Welfare Conference took place from 6-8 December 2016, in Guadalajara, Mexico. There is more information about this, including a program, here. The conference culminated in the presentation of the draft Global Animal Welfare Strategy and Recommendations of the conference. The draft Recommendations can be viewed here. For more information about the outcomes of the conference and to view all posters, presentation slides, and abstracts, click here.

Global Animal Welfare Strategy

The OIE drafted a new Global Animal Welfare Strategy which was presented at the Global Animal Welfare Conference. However, this will not be considered and finalized by the OIE until the 2017 General Assembly in May. More information about this strategy can be found in the OIE's press release here.

Animal Welfare Working Group and the Animal Welfare Forum

At the Guadalajara meeting the OIE Director General told ICFAW members that the OIE is planning to disband the Animal Welfare Working Group (AWWG), which was founded in 2002. The AWWG was responsible for coordinating and managing the OIE’s animal welfare activities. This will be voted upon during the OIE General Assembly in May. While this is a concerning move, the OIE has communicated that it intends to create an Animal Welfare Forum as a replacement. ICFAW has drafted a document outlining the role it sees for the forum, but there has been no further information from the OIE. This is likely to be a major topic for ICFAW in the run up to the May General Assembly.

International Standards

A major part of the OIE’s work on AW is the development of international standards. Here is an easy infographic with links to these.

The OIE Code Commission is currently working on a new pig welfare standard, which was revised in February after an initial public consultation period. ICFAW will have the opportunity to participate in a second round of comments later this year. The Code Commission is also considering standards for laying hens and reptiles at slaughter. Once these standards have been drafted, they too will be opened up to consultation from ICFAW and others.

Regional Animal Welfare Strategies

The OIE also supports the development of Regional AW Strategies (RAWS), which are designed to progressively develop AW across regions. There is more information about these here.

The OIE Platform on Animal Welfare in Europe now has a dedicated website. A new Action Plan for the platform is being consolidated (this will be the second Action Plan), and will be presented/discussed in a third stakeholders consultation this year. There was a meeting of the European Animal Welfare Focal Points in March in Moldova.

Asia, Far East, and Oceana (AFEO)
The AFEO RAWS met at the Global Animal Welfare Conference in Guadalajara in December of last year. The RAWS’ action plan was briefly reviewed. The next meeting will take place in April, prior to the Regional Commission and the May OIE General Assembly.

There has been progress on the development of a pan-African RAWS (see below).

At a recent African Regional Commission meeting in Namibia, the OIE Director General announced that 50% of the OIE World Animal Health and Welfare Fund is directed towards programs in Africa, but it is unclear to what degree any of these programs currently cover animal welfare implementation.

Animal Welfare Focal Points

Some APOs have reported that their OIE AW Focal Point has not been carrying out all the duties of this role stipulated in the Terms of Reference. WAN is in the process of drafting a blog and resources which will give tips and advice for how APOs can engage and assist their AW Focal Points, as well as how Focal Points can more effectively carry out their Terms of Reference. Follow our blog to receive this post when it is ready.

European Union

The European Union (EU) has provided a good example of how AW can be developed throughout a region when a REC embraces it as a policy objective (the list of EU achievements includes, for example, the recognition of animal sentience in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, and the ban on confinement housing for sows which came in to effect in the region in 2013).

As of January 2017, the European Commission (EC), the body responsible for proposing legislation and implementing decisions in the EU, has begun work to set up a group of experts on AW under the European Platform on Animal Welfare.

The role of the Platform is to assist the Commission in the implementation of EU legislation related to animal welfare, to promote understanding both within and outside the EU of international standards on animal welfare, to encourage dialogue between competent authorities, businesses, civil society, academia, and international intergovernmental organizations (such as the OIE or FAO), and to share information, experiences, scientific knowledge and best practices on animal welfare.

The Forum will consist of up to 75 members. 35 of the members are represented by government authorities or intergovernmental organizations. The EC put out a call for applications which closed on March 6 for members to fill the remaining 40 seats. World Animal Net has submitted an application for a seat on the Forum.

Once the Forum membership has been finalized, the Forum will meet twice a year.

More information on the Forum is available here.

The African Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR)

The African Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) is currently developing a continental AW strategy. A task force retreat took place in early March in Naivasha, Kenya, and Nick de Souza attended for WAN. The initial discussion document was drafted by a consultant, Prof. Cheik Ly who was formerly the Director of the FAO’s sub-regional office in Accra, and was refined and developed as a draft strategy by the retreat’s attendees. Key suggestions from NGOs included that the strategy cover all animals, as opposed to just farm animals, and to have a greater focus on a “one welfare” approach. It was also suggested that the vision statement should refer to animals being treated as sentient beings, which would be a good step forward from recognition as sentient beings. 

A new draft strategy has now been prepared following the retreat, and WAN is submitting further comments/suggestions. Then a final version will be put forward to African CVOs for consideration and validation on 26th April.

The work on a Continental African AW Strategy follows the successful validation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) RAWS last year. IGAD has now re-appointed the same consultant who worked on its RAWS to develop National AW Strategies for its member countries.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has produced a new technical report, “Good Animal Husbandry Practices (GAHP) – Animal Welfare and Environmental Sustainability Module for Layers, Broilers and Ducks.” While it is positive that animal welfare has been considered, the module is problematic for animal welfare as it allows the use of traditional battery cages.

United Nations – Food and Agriculture Organization

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published a new report titled “The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges.” Unfortunately, this report omits animal welfare, despite the FAO’s recent work developing the “Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains” together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which does include an emphasis on animal welfare.

United Nations – Framework Convention on Climate Change

The 2016 climate change conference, the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), took place in Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18th November 2016. The official outcomes can be found here, and a follow up report from Tozie Zokufa of the Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance and Humane Society International and Caroline Wimberley of Brighter Green on the inclusion of animal welfare at the conference can be found here.

APOs are encouraged to participate in future UNFCCC climate conferences to raise awareness of the intersection of animal agriculture and climate change. The next meeting of the UNFCCC, the Bonn Climate Conference, will be held from 8-18 May in Bonn, Germany. The next Conference of the Parties (CoP 23) will also be held in Bonn, on behalf of host country Fiji, 6-17 November.


The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 24 September to 5 October 2016. Here is a round-up of the outcomes from Animals 24-7, and an informative article by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The next Conference of the Parties will not be held until 2019.

What is the International Policy Forum?

In 2014, WAN established the International Policy Forum to address significant and emerging international issues in animal protection. The WAN International Policy Forum convenes a diverse group of key representatives in the global field of animal protection to collaborate, network, and develop policy proposals and joint advocacy to advance strategic animal protection policies and their implementation.
Copyright © 2017 World Animal Net, All rights reserved.

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