International policy and what it means for animals.
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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 do feel free to pass on to your animal protection contacts and other stakeholders, and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or comments.
There is more background information about the International Policy Environment on our website here.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The OIE has been mandated to take the lead internationally on animal welfare and to elaborate recommendations and guidelines covering animal welfare practices. WAN’s website explains more about its work here.

Global AW Strategy

The OIE is currently drafting a global animal welfare strategy. This is due to be presented at the Global AW Conference. 

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 is currently working on a pig welfare standard, and will establish ad hoc working groups on laying hens and farmed reptiles by the end of this year.

Animal Welfare Focal Points

Each OIE member country is required to appoint a national AW Focal Point. One of the AW Focal Point’s key purposes is to liaise and consult with animal protection organizations in their own country. It is important for APOs to make contact with their national AW Focal Points to positively influence AW policy development. AW Focal Points are usually listed on the OIE’s regional websites which can be found here

International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW)

ICFAW represents international APOs at the 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. 

As well as commenting on draft OIE standards, ICFAW currently has working groups on the OIE Global Conference and ICFAW enlargement (where it has examined the Species Survival Network mode of working). 

Global Animal Welfare (AW) Conference

The OIE’s Global Animal Welfare (AW) Conference takes place just once every four years. The next one will take place from 6-8th December 2016, in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

The International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW) (see below) is organizing a pre-meeting with animal protection organizations attending the conference (provisionally fixed for 5th December afternoon/evening, but may need to be earlier if the OIE has another function/event at this time). Please let us know if you plan to attend, and we will link you in.

Regional Animal Welfare Strategies (RAWS)

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

So far every geographical region of the world has developed a RAWS, apart from Africa.  However, work has begun in Africa too now:
In August 2016, WAN (along with other Animal Protection Organizations (APOs)) attended a working group meeting which successfully validated a RAWS for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The African Union’s Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) co-hosted the workshop: It has already included animal welfare as a key goal in its strategic plan for 2014-2017, and pledged to establish an African Platform for Animal Welfare. Amongst its supportive comments were statements that Africa as the cradle of civilization must play a leading role in animal welfare; and that this RAWS will be extended to other regions as a model. 

World Bank

The World Bank supports development by providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, published a Good Practice Note on Animal Welfare in Livestock Operations.

AW and Development

WAN met with the Bank’s Agricultural Global Practices Division in July to discuss AW & Development. The Bank is interested in “best practice” information and resources, and we have just finished researching this, in conjunction with ICFAW. This will be available on our website shortly.

The Bank expressed willingness to host a conference/workshop on AW & Development, but financing would be required for this – an estimated $100,000- $200,000.

Environmental and Social Framework

The World Bank has now agreed a final draft of their Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies, which are intended to set the standard for sustainability and social responsibility globally, and these now include a reference to animal welfare standards. These can be found here.

HSI has produced comments and reactions to the draft ESF in this Press Release. They have also provided a helpful note written by a supporter who is a retired Environmental Assessment Specialist at the World Bank which provides advice on potential use of the new ESF for animal protection purposes.


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a treaty formed in 1973 that now has 175 member countries. The convention protects some species of wildlife from overexploitation through trade.

The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) took place in Johannesburg (at the Sandton Convention Centre), South Africa from 24 September-05 October 2016. Updates on the progress made at CoP17 have been prepared by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Animals 24-7

World Animal Day

First celebrated in Berlin in 1925 and promoted by Heinrich Zimmermann, the editor of Mensch und Hund/Man and DogWorld Animal Day is a celebration of animals of all kinds. Read more about the history of World Animal Day here

World Animal Day October 4th was again promoted by the Naturewatch Foundation in cooperation with World Animal Net and the National Council for Animal Protection (NCAP) in the USA. The WAD logo is now available in over 20 languages.

A combination of World Animal Day recognized by the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare (UDAW) would be desirable.

United Nations

World Animal Net has been a voice for animals at the UN since 2001 and has special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council. You can read more about our work at the UN here

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The first High Level Political Forum (HLPF) since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals was held in July, during which the following ministerial declaration was adopted. Notably, the first commitment of this declaration is that no one be left behind in the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Agenda. The declaration also states that civil society participation is valued. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was present, emphasizing the first point of the declaration, in the context of the importance of research for sustainable livestock practices, the support of small-holder farms to support the rising demand for livestock products, and the need to challenge the “Western” perspective that livestock does more harm than good in terms of protection over the environment and human health. Their full comments can be found here.

COP 22

The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) will take place in Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18th November 2016.
RAPAD (Moroccan APO/Sustainable Development Organization) has been named the Space Leader for "Fauna and Flora", and secured a space of 54 M2, to promote Conservation and Animal Welfare along with National Moroccan and international partners.

Meat Tax

The UN’s International Research Panel has produced a new report proposing that meat should be taxed at the wholesale level to raise the price and deter consumption in order to save the environment and prevent global warming. See here.


Economic Paradigms

The current economic development paradigm (using GDP as a measure) is one of the root causes of animal exploitation, with animals’ interests losing out to economic criteria. Thus WAN is following and supporting the development of other emerging contenders for new development paradigms/measures which have the potential to be beneficial for the animal cause.

Harmony with Nature

The Harmony with Nature initiative is one of these emerging development paradigms.
Here is the background chronology to this initiative. It includes an International Mother Earth Day and annual report.
A resolution was passed on this at the UN’s 70th session (December 2015). It links into the SDGs, and clearly seeks to influence their more holistic implementation. It is also important as the resolution recognizes the need for broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product in order to better inform policy decisions.
Here are the results of the 2016 virtual dialogue, which ended on 22nd June 2016.


Happiness/well-being is another contender for a new development paradigm. The UN has passed a resolution on Happiness/well-being recommending that governments develop additional measures that better captured the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development. There is an annual World Happiness Report, a UN World Happiness Day, and many governments across the world (including all OECD countries) are now using happiness/well-being measures. However, more work need to be done to ensure that happiness/well-being includes animals within its scope.

New Agreements


The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) have jointly developed “Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains”. This guidance is designed to help enterprises observe standards of responsible business conduct to ensure that their operations contribute to sustainable development and do not lead to adverse impacts. It includes animal welfare (see Page 26), and specifies that this should be in accordance with or exceeding OIE principles.


The OIE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the OECD in Paris on 7th September 2016. Planned cooperation includes animal welfare.


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.

This policy update is the brainchild of International Policy Forum member Pei Feng Su of ACTAsia. Thank you Pei Feng!
Copyright © 2016 World Animal Net, All rights reserved.

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