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International policy and what it means for animals.
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JUNE 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 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.
 

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

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 accomplish this is by using the UN’s annual High Level Political Forum (HLPF), an avenue that reviews progress completed for each goal. 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.” The HLPF is a participatory forum, which provides civil society with an unparalleled opportunity to influence the SDG agenda – yet the animal protection movement is sadly under-represented.

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 animal protection organizations will be goals 2 and 14:

  • Goal 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Goal 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

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 animal protection organizations to participate in their county’s work on the SDGs.

More information on the HLPF and VNRs is available here.

Additionally, there is the opportunity for official side events at the HLPF. World Animal Net (WAN) has submitted an application for a side event at the HLPF entitled “The Future of Food and Agriculture in a Changing World” which focuses on the negative impacts of industrial animal agriculture on the achievement of the SDGs. Our partners on the application were Amina Abaza, founder of S.P.A.R.E. and the Minister of Animal Welfare and the Environment in the Women’s Government of Egypt, Humane Society International, A Well Fed World, Brighter Green, the Good Food Institute, and Compassion in World Farming. There were over 240 side event applications for only 80 slots. WAN will provide updates on the side event and outcomes if accepted.

Involvement of Stakeholders and Other Major Groups

At the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit), the UN formalized the ways in which various stakeholders can participate in activities related to sustainable development. This was accomplished by creating “Major Groups” which represent various sectors of society. There are nine of these groups, and they represent:

  • Women
  • Children and Youth
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Local Authorities
  • Workers and Trade Unions
  • Business and Industry
  • Scientific and Technological Community
  • Farmers

The coordination of the inputs from these major groups is led by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Division for Sustainable Development (DSD).

Of primary interest to animal protection organizations will be the Non-Governmental Organizations Major Group (NGO MG). The NGO MG organizes positions on behalf of their members which are delivered to the appropriate UN organs. WAN and Thinking Animals United participated in the final rounds of the NGO MG’s development of a position statement for the HLPF, and is pleased that several animal-friendly suggestions were included, especially this line from the Position Statement Summary:

“We call for a new development paradigm which furthers the well-being of humans, nature and animals, and which sees as its ultimate aim the achievement of equity and justice, to ‘leave no one behind.’”

Importantly, participation in the NGO MG is highly inclusive and open to all NGOs, regardless of accreditation at the United Nations. It is facilitated by a Google Group which sends many helpful updates to subscribers regarding activities and opportunities at the UN (including opportunities to contribute to official position statements of the NGO MG). To add your organization to the NGO MG, simply complete this Google form, and subscribe to the Google Group.

Preparatory Events Taking Place Prior to the HLPF

There are a number of events leading up to the HLPF. Most prominent are Regional Preparatory Forums that feed into the HLPF, the last of which concluded in April. This year’s preparatory meetings took place in:

RAPAD Morocco, a Moroccan organization working on animal protection and sustainable development, was able to send a representative to the Rabat Preparatory Meeting, and their activities are described in this summary of their report.

WAN’s Janice Cox was able to attend the Addis Ababa meeting, where she gained valuable insights into the input process and coordination mechanisms for the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGOS). You can read her report here.

In addition to the preparatory meetings, the UN is hosting the Oceans Conference from 5-9 June. World Animal Protection attended the Oceans Conference to promote awareness and participation in the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. The International Fund for Animal Welfare also participated in the conference.

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.

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). WAN’s Janice Cox spoke on animal welfare at a Forum session on 8th March. A recording of the forum session is now available on YouTube.

At the forum, Juergen Voegele, Senior Director of the World Bank Agriculture Global Practice, announced that he would “accept the challenge put forward by Janice Cox” and confirmed that the World Bank would host an international stakeholder workshop on Animal Welfare and Development.

This workshop will focus on good practice in animal agriculture for low and middle income countries, both to support the World Bank’s work, and hopefully also to influence that of other development partners. The timing is still being discussed, but it has been suggested that the workshop could be held at Wageningen University in the Netherlands in late 2017. Few details are available at the moment, but WAN is on the workshop's steering committee and will share further details as they become available, including via the blog and newsletter.

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 draft resolution on animal welfare was introduced, and the Global Animal Welfare Strategy, introduced at the 2016 Global Animal Welfare Conference in Mexico, was approved. The finalized resolution on animal welfare will be available on the OIE site shortly. In addition, the assembly voted not to renew the mandate for the Animal Welfare Working Group (more information on this below). Details from the Assembly are forthcoming, but some preliminary information is available on the OIE’s website.

Global Animal Welfare Strategy

The OIE’s Global Animal Welfare Strategy was approved by the 180 OIE member countries at the 2017 General Assembly on 24 May. The four pillars of the strategy include: the development of international animal welfare standards; enhancement of capacity building and training of Veterinary Services; communication with governments, national and international organizations and the public to raise awareness on animal welfare; and the progressive implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and corresponding policies. The strategy also recommends the creation of the new Animal Welfare Forum which will replace the Animal Welfare Working Group. More information about the strategy can be found in the OIE's press release here.

Animal Welfare Working Group and the Animal Welfare Forum

At the OIE General Assembly in May, delegates voted not to renew the mandate for 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. The OIE felt that the objectives of the working group had been achieved, with animal welfare now integrated into the OIE’s general operations. The Working Group on Animal Production and Food Safety was disbanded for similar reasons.

The OIE intends to create an Animal Welfare Forum as a replacement, and has indicated that the structure of the Forum will be ready by September 2017 and will have its first meeting this year. 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.

ICFAW is currently providing comments to the following standards:

  • The definition of animal welfare as found in the Glossary of the Terrestrial Code.
  • The “Introduction to the Recommendation for Animal Welfare” in the Terrestrial Code.
  • A draft article on guiding principles on the use of animal-based measures.
  • A draft chapter on pig welfare.

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 Animal Welfare Strategies (RAWS), which are designed to progressively develop animal welfare across regions. There is more information about these here.

Europe
The OIE Platform on Animal Welfare in Europe now has a dedicated website.
There was a meeting of the European Animal Welfare Focal Points in March in Moldova.

Asia, Far East, and Oceania
Mongolia, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong have now provided animal welfare updates to the Asia, Far East, and Oceania Regional Animal Welfare Strategy Advisory Group.

Africa
The African Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) is developing a continental African Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS). A task force retreat took place in early March in Naivasha, Kenya, and was attended by representatives from the OIE, FAO, PAAWA, the Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, WAN and World Animal Protection. An update on this meeting can be found here. An update on the strategy progress was presented on 5 May during the 9th Pan-African CVOs meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, and will not be validated until July.

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

European Union

The European Union (EU) has provided a good example of how animal welfare 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).

The European Commission (EC), the body responsible for proposing legislation and implementing decisions in the EU, has developed a formal group of experts on animal welfare 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, the 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 consists of 75 members, 35 of which are represented by government authorities or intergovernmental organizations. The animal protection organizations represented on the forum are Vier Pfoten, CIWF, World Animal Protection, RSPCA International and World Horse Welfare.

The first meeting of the Forum took place on 7 June in Brussels. A recording of the meeting can be viewed here.

United Nations Environmental Programme

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

UNEP still does not include animal welfare directly in their activities, and is even reconsidering the GRASP programme, which included some welfare aspects of the plight of Great Apes. UNEP 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. UNEP sometimes includes messaging about reduction in meat consumption because of the environmental perspective of consumption patterns.

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

WAN met with staff at UNEP in May and has applied for accreditation with UNEP. There are few animal protection organizations currently with accreditation at UNEP. These include the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) and World Animal Protection. Applying for accreditation with UNEP 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.

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 will be available on the conference website when prepared. The next Conference of the Parties (CoP 23) will also be held in Bonn, on behalf of host country Fiji, 6-17 November. With recent developments regarding the United States’ potential departure from the Paris Climate Agreement, China has been touted as a world environment leader. This may have impacts on wildlife and other animals, and is worth monitoring.

United Nations – Food and Agriculture Organization

The first Meeting of the parties to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) was held in Oslo, Norway from May 29 to 31. The PSMA is key to Sustainable Development Goal 14, which expressly calls for an end to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by 2020. An overview of the event is available, as are the official meeting documents.

International Standards Organization (ISO)

A new standard is being developed to help organizations put together programs for managing climate change. ISO 14080, on “Greenhouse gas management and related activities – Framework and principles for methodologies on climate actions”, will include guidance on how to create effective mitigation and adaptation activities. There may be scope for animal protection organization advocacy here. 

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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