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 feel free to pass on to 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.

United Nations - Economic and Social Council

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

Civil society organizations across the world are now working to hold their countries accountable for completing the work necessary to meet the United Nations’ (UN’s) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. One way organizations can advocate for animals within the sustainable development agenda is by using the UN’s annual High Level Political Forum (HLPF), an avenue that reviews progress completed for each SDG. The 2017 HLPF took place from 10-19 July at the UN Headquarters in New York under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme of the HLPF was “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.” The HLPF is a participatory forum, which provides an opportunity for civil society to influence the SDG agenda. 

WAN attended the HLPF, as did the Donkey Sanctuary, but found that the animal protection movement was sadly under-represented in this space. WAN reported on some preliminary outcomes of this work, including the inclusion of animal welfare in several official NGO statements made to member states, in a blog

Preparations for the 2018 HLPF are now underway. Animal protection organizations who wish to engage the sustainable development agenda and advocate for consideration of animal welfare should keep an eye on the following opportunities, regardless of their accreditation status with ECOSOC:

  • Collaboration with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) under the NGO Major Group (NGO MG). Under the modalities for civil society participation in the HLPF, NGOs must coordinate their advocacy through the NGO MG. Any NGO may join the NGO MG by filling out this Google form, and subscribing to the NGO MG Google Group. Thinking Animals United is currently leading the development of an Animal Issues Thematic Cluster within the NGO MG, which will provide expertise on issues relating to animal welfare. The NGO MG is one of the best ways to keep up with the processes and opportunities for advocacy both leading up to and during the HLPF. In addition, the NGO MG develops a joint position statement for the HLPF, and NGO MG members have the opportunity to decide what is included in this statement.
  • Participation in Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). Each year, countries can volunteer to participate in a review of their progress on the 2015 agenda. These reviews should include transparent opportunities for participation from civil society (including animal protection organizations) on a national level. Unfortunately, how this works in reality varies among countries, but animal protection organizations interested in advocating for animals to their national governments (with the opportunity for animal welfare to trickle up to the UN), should proactively engage their government in the VNR process, to ensure that opportunities for input are not missed. The countries conducting VNRs in 2018 can be found here. The process is beginning now, and will culminate with country presentations at the next HLPF in June or July of 2018. 
  • Participate in Regional Forums on Sustainable Development. Each major region of the world holds a Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, which provides an opportunity for regional issues and perspectives to feed into the larger sustainable development agenda. These forums present yet another opportunity for animal protection organizations to advocate for consideration of animals. These forums will likely take place from March to May of 2018, so interested advocates should begin looking for information on these in January or February of next year. In 2017, RAPAD Morocco attended the Forum for the Middle East and North Africa, and WAN attended the African Forum. Attendance at Regional Forums on Sustainable Development requires affiliation with ECOSOC-accredited NGOs (which is not required for participation in VNRs or in the NGO MG). Organizations interested in attending their Regional Forum can contact WAN to make arrangements in this respect.

More information on the HLPF and Sustainable Development Agenda is available here. WAN will also make a more comprehensive report to help animal protection organizations plan and understand UN advocacy in the coming weeks. 

United Nations Environment

United Nations (UN) Environment is a global authority on the international environmental agenda, promoting the inclusion of the environment in sustainable development in the UN system. UN Environment is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

UN Environment still does not include animal welfare directly in their activities, and is even reconsidering the status of the GRASP programme, which included some welfare aspects of the plight of Great Apes. UN Environment is involved heavily in work on the SDGs, but not in farming aspects because of potential overlap with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. UN Environment sometimes includes messaging about reduction in meat consumption because of the environmental perspective of consumption patterns.

Some areas where UN Environment’s work intersects with animal protection interests include wildlife trade; biodiversity and ecosystems; climate change and the impact of animal production; seas and oceans; pollution; and environmental legislation.

WAN has now received accreditation with UN Environment. There are few animal protection organizations currently with accreditation at UN Environment, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) and World Animal Protection. Applying for accreditation with UN environment is a far simpler process than applying for status with ECOSOC, and can be completed on a rolling basis (with no annual deadline). Contact us for more information if your organization is interested in applying. 

WAN is also planning to attend the 2017 United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) which is a platform for global leadership on the environment. UNEA will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from 4-6 December, and will be preceded by the Global Major Groups and Other Stakeholders Forum, the Committee of Permanent Representatives open-ended working group, and a Science, Policy and Business Forum. The focus of this UNEA is pollution, which intersects with many animal protection issues, particularly for those working on farm animal welfare, and the outcomes of UNEA will feed directly into the 2018 HLPF.

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.

World Animal Net has continued working as a member of the Steering Group developing the World Bank's upcoming workshop series on animal welfare in agricultural development. The other members of the steering group include the World Bank, the World Organization for Animal Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and Wageningen University.

Originally envisaged as a single workshop on animal welfare, it has been recognized that this would not meaningfully address the many issues relevant to animal welfare in agriculture development. Instead, a preliminary concept note prepared by the steering group proposes that a series of workshops should instead be held, each addressing a different issue, for example, laying hens, pig production, transport or slaughter. The workshops will bring together experts on each issue, with a view of producing guidance and resources to guide future investment in agricultural development globally. The World Bank is now undertaking a fundraising cycle in order to accommodate the workshops. For background on the World Bank's interest in improving practices in animal agriculture, watch the World Bank Agriculture Global Practice Forum Discussion on animal welfare which took place earlier this year and at which WAN was one of three panelists. 

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.

International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW)

ICFAW represents international animal protection organizations at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). There is more about ICFAW’s 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.

85th OIE General Assembly

The 2017 OIE General Assembly took place in Paris from 21 to 26 May. During the assembly, OIE delegates voted on the approval of new standards, including those covering the welfare of dairy cows and working equids. A resolution on animal welfare was passed, and the Global Animal Welfare Strategy, introduced at the 2016 Global Animal Welfare Conference in Mexico, was approved.

In addition, the assembly voted not to renew the mandate for the Animal Welfare Working Group (more information on the below). The OIE intends to create an Animal Welfare Forum, which will have its first meeting in early 2018. ICFAW has drafted a document outlining the role it sees for the forum and provided this to the OIE.

Cooperation Agreement

The OIE and ICFAW are amidst discussions regarding a cooperation agreement between the two bodies. The agreement will formalize ICFAW’s relationship with the OIE and will provide guidelines on how the organizations can share information and work together in the future. The OIE has accepted most of ICFAW’s revisions to the original draft and is now redrafting the agreement for final review by ICFAW. The agreement is set to be approved by the OIE Council in September 2017, and approved by the OIE General Session in May 2018.

International Standards

A major part of the OIE’s work on animal welfare is the development of international standards. Here is an easy infographic with links to these. The OIE Terrestrial Code Commission is meeting this September to continue work on these. Expected outcomes of the meetings include:

  • Potential changes to the definition of and introduction to animal welfare as found in the Glossary of the Terrestrial Code.
  • A new chapter on laying hens.
  • A draft article on guiding principles on the use of animal-based measures in animal welfare assessment.
  • A draft chapter on pig welfare.
  • A draft chapter on slaughter of reptiles.

Regional Animal Welfare Strategies

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

The OIE Platform on Animal Welfare in Europe had a meeting in June on the three regional priorities of transport, slaughter and stray dogs. The OIE has also added two new priorities to this action plan: disaster management and working equine welfare. These were requested by OIE member countries.

The OIE also hosted a workshop in Uzbekistan in late September which focused on working equids, rabies and stray dog issues.

Asia, Far East, and Oceania
The Asia, Far East, and Oceania Regional Animal Welfare Strategy Advisory Group is developing an action plan and met to discuss this on 21 September. The Advisory Group will also hold a side meeting at an OIE Regional Office meeting on 21 November in Malaysia.

Additionally, it is worth noting that Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return has now published a report assessing the risks involved with investments in animal production in Asia.

Led by the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU IBAR), the Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa (AWSA) has now been endorsed, and this will be put to African Ministers in charge of Livestock in October. The implementation of the strategy will be supported by an Animal Platform for Animal Welfare (APAW) which was established concurrently. WAN has now been invited as a member of the APAW. 

National Advocacy

For organizations interested in relationship-building and advocacy with their country's Animal Welfare Focal Points and Delegates, who are representatives ot the OIE, WAN has produced a guidance document exploring the roles of these representatives and how to engage them. This resource comes at the request of members of the International Policy Forum and takes into consideration the advice and experiences of a number of Animal Welfare Focal Points.

United Nations - Framework Convention on Climate Change

The most recent meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Bonn Climate Conference, was held from 8 - 18 May in Bonn, Germany. The outcomes of this conference are available on the conference website.

The next UN Climate Change Conference will also be held in Bonn, on behalf of host country Fiji, 6-17 November. It is too late for organizations without observer status to attend this Conference, but it is not too late to plan for the coming year's meetings of the UNFCCC. Interested organizations should see the UNFCCC information on applying for observer status as an NGO.

With recent developments regarding the United States' departure from the Paris Climate Agreement, China has been touted as a future world environment leader. This may have impacts on wildlife and other animals, and is worth monitoring.

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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