International policy and what it means for animals.
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June 2019

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.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The 87th General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) took place from 26-31 May in Paris, France. The event attracted about 900 individuals, including Delegates from 182 Member Countries. A total of 33 Resolutions were adopted “including new and amended international standards aimed at protecting and improving animal health and welfare.”

Twenty-seven individuals, representing 13 different worldwide animal protection organizations, attended the event as delegates under the International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW). ICFAW is a coalition that was formed in 2001 to represent non-governmental animal welfare organisations at the OIE. ICFAW members observed consultations and the adoptions of new Resolutions, attended Regional Commissions meetings, and spoke to influential OIE members and delegates about the importance of the implementation of animal welfare standards in the context of the OIE framework.

During the session, several important issues were covered, such as the “impact of external factors in the Veterinary Services” and different aspects of the status of global animal health issues. The United Arab Emirates was approved to host a new OIE Sub Regional office in Abu Dhabi which “will strengthen the cooperation with the OIE and among the Members of the subregion addressing their main concerns, such as zoonotic diseases and animal welfare.”

There was a discussion among member countries regarding the development of a new chapter covering the welfare of egg-laying hens. This chapter is particularly contentious and many countries spoke against the fact that the most recent version developed by the Terrestrial Code Commission did not include all types of housing (including caged systems). The chapter will be subject to additional rounds of revisions and comments. Advocacy towards Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) will be essential to ensuring that the laying hen chapter effectively protects welfare and discourages caged systems.

The following chapters or amendments to chapters were agreed by member states:

  • Amendments to the chapter on Guiding principles for the use of measures to assess animal welfare (Article 7.1.4.)
  • Amendments to the chapter on Animal welfare and pig production systems (Articles 7.13.4. and 7.13.15.)
  • Draft new chapter on killing of reptiles for their skins, meat and other products (Chapter 7.Y.)
  • Amendments to the chapter on Infection with rabies virus (Chapter 8.14.)

The growing demand for reptiles and their skins, and the subsequent welfare concerns for those species which arise during killing, were addressed by adopting a new chapter on “killing of reptiles for their skins, meat and other products”.

The OIE assumed leadership on the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, and will work in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to identify appropriate actions to manage and control the spread of ASF worldwide.

All Resolutions adopted during the 87th OIE General Session will be soon available on the OIE Website.

Sustainable Development Agenda

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the annual review process of the Sustainable Development Agenda, will be taking place from 9-18 July in New York. The SDGs under review at this year’s HLPF are SDGs 4 (education), 8 (livelihoods), 10 (inequalities), 13 (climate change), 16 (peace and strong institutions), and 17 (means of implementation).

The Animal Issues Thematic Cluster will be hosting an exhibition booth at the HLPF for the duration of the session.

In addition, this year there will also be an HLPF under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly from 24-25 September. This HLPF, also known as the SDG Summit, takes place only every four years. This two day HLPF “will assess progress achieved so far since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015 and provide leadership and guidance on the way forward that would help accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.” It will consider the forthcoming Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR).

Global Sustainable Development Report

The Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) is a report that will now be produced quadrennially by an independent group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General with the aim of guiding the implementation and review of the Sustainable Development Agenda by strengthening the science-policy interface. In December of 2017, the United Nations sought input from scientists and other stakeholders into this report. WAN coordinated the inputs from a number of animal welfare, behavior, and cognition scientists. Their inputs appear to have been taken on board--a section of the report which outlines important emerging issues that are not yet included in the SDGs highlights animal welfare as one of seven key issues. The language used is notable:

“There are clear links between human health and well-being and animal welfare, this is increasingly being recognized in ethics- and rights-based frameworks. Strong governance should safeguard the well-being of both wildlife and domesticated animals with rules on animal welfare embedded in transnational trade.”

Additionally, the GSDR makes a clear call for a reduction in meat consumption, going so far as to claim that in certain cases, “allocating land to livestock rearing is an irrational use of resources, emitting contaminants and greenhouse gases, and excluding more efficient ways of producing more food with less resources.”

The GSDR also states “new multilateral agreements should be put in place to guarantee the protection of the largest tropical rainforests of the planet (in Africa, Asia and South America) and to extend marine protected areas to at least one third of the Ocean by 2030.”

The GSDR is still in draft form, and has been open to comments from the Major Groups and other Stakeholders. The final report will be presented and considered at the SDG Summit in September.

Global Pact for the Environment

The Global Pact for the Environment originally aimed 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 was led primarily by France and the initial text was developed through an international network of over one hundred leading experts.

The first substantive meeting on the Global Pact took place in UN Environment in Nairobi from 14-18 January 2019. WAN attended and Janice Cox, co-founder of WAN, was appointed as one of the three coordinators for NGOs at the meeting. WAN made statements to the meeting, which are recorded on the official website here. WAN’s briefing on the Global Pact is here. The meeting considered a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on “Gaps in international environmental law and environmental-related instruments: towards a Global Pact for the Environment”. This was a substantial report, which highlighted the many gaps in existing environmental regulatory regimes, instruments, governance and implementation.

The second Substantive Session of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) Towards a Global Pact for the Environment took place from 18-20th March 2019 at UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya. Over the course of the three-day meeting delegates and stakeholders came together to address the fragmentation, lack of coherence, and general inadequacy of international environmental law. A full report of the meeting, including daily coverage, can be found here – courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

The third Substantive Session of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) Towards a Global Pact for the Environment took place from 20-22 May 2019 at UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya. Two WAN representatives took part – Dr. Sabine Lennkh, Legislative and Policy Advisor, and Janice Cox, Co-Founder. IISD Reporting Services have prepared a daily report of the meeting and a summary report, which are available here.

There is also further information available on UN Environment’s web portal for the Global Pact under the tag for the Third Substantive Session.

A brief report can also be found on the website of the Global Pact for the Environment.

WAN’s blog of the meeting is here, and contains links to blogs on the previous meetings as well.

UN Environment Assembly

The fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 4) took place from 11-15 March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, at the UN Offices at Nairobi (UNON), organised on the theme of “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.” Almost 5,000 participants from 179 countries attended the Assembly and related events during the week, including five Heads of State and Government and 157 ministers and deputy ministers. The Assembly included plenary sessions, leadership dialogues and a multi-stakeholder dialogues.

The Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) convened from 4-8 March, with informal consultations on 9-10 March, to negotiate the Ministerial Declaration and resolutions to be adopted by UNEA 4. Negotiations on many of the draft resolutions and decisions continued in the UNEA Committee of the Whole (CoW). During the closing plenary on 15 March, delegates adopted a Ministerial Declaration, 23 resolutions and three decisions, addressing shared and emerging global environmental issues. A number of resolutions were significantly weakened during discussions, and three important resolutions were withdrawn after failing to reach agreement - covering deforestation and agricultural commodity supply chains, geoengineering and its governance, and plastic pollution.

There was a strong animal protection presence at UNEA 4. In attendance was World Animal Net (WAN) along with a number of other animal protection organisations, including Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), Cruelty Free International, the African Network for Animal Welfare, RAPAD Morocco, and ProVeg International.

UN Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (2019) report was published in time for UNEA 4. The report set a worrying scene, highlighting that environmental degradation is happening at a faster rate than was previously believed. “Key actions include reducing land degradation, biodiversity loss, and air, land and water pollution; improving water management and resource management; climate change mitigation and adaptation; resource efficiency; addressing decarbonization, decoupling and detoxification; and the prevention and management of risk and disasters.”

World Animal Net, Brighter Green, Compassion in World Farming, ProVeg International, Global Forest Coalition, Good Food Institute and African Network for Animal Welfare co-hosted a side event titled Food, Forests and Climate Change which hosted a wide range of speakers, including a speaker from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. World Animal Net, Brighter Green, Compassion in World Farming, ProVeg International and Global Forest Coalition also hosted a booth across from the UNON cafeteria inviting visitors to take a quiz on how to choose a sustainable food future, which educated them on the massive environmental impact of animal agriculture. More information can be found here.

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. Work is slated to begin in September 2019 on a set of guidelines for equine welfare and a set of guidelines for broiler chicken welfare. 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 Task Team 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.

African Union (AU)

There was a meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the African Platform for Animal Welfare on 14th May, and the Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa (AWSA) was finalised. This is now being formatted and should be available shortly.
The first meeting of the African Platform for Animal Welfare in conjunction with the Pan African Parliament meeting is scheduled for August 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.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The Bonn Climate Change Conference will take place from 17-27 June 2019 in Bonn, Germany. A provisional agenda for the conference can be found here.
During the conference, Brighter Green, in collaboration with the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) and Friends of the Siberian Forests (FSF), will host a joint side event and exhibit titled “Drivers of deforestation: drifting away from real solutions to address the climate crisis”. This side event will “discuss the main drivers of deforestation - beef, soy, palm oil and wood - and their negative impacts on climate change, indigenous peoples, local communities and women and perpetuation of flawed and false solutions helped by perverse subsidies and climate finance.” The conference will also be attended by representatives from the Food and Climate Alliance.

Another side event titled “Taking stock of equity outcomes and policy learning in transnational and jurisdictional REDD+”, which will take place on June 24th, will explore “the conditions and associated actors” that can “enable the transformational change required to reduce deforestation and forest degradation”.

Convention on Biological Diversity

For the celebration of UN’s International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD), the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) partnered with Slow Food International in order to highlight the threats to Global Food Security in light of the planet’s dramatic decline in biodiversity. Slow Food International “is a global network of local communities” that work to safeguard “local food cultures and traditions and counteract the rise of fast food culture.” The partnership advanced this year’s IBD theme of “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health” by drawing the connections between the industrial food system, the destruction of biodiversity, and the harmful effects on human health and entire ecosystems.

From 27-31 May, CBD, along with FAO, the Government of Fiji and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community organized a “sub-regional exchange workshop for the Pacific on the restoration of forests and other ecosystems to support the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.” The aim of the workshop was to “support Parties in developing and implementing national plans on the restoration of forests and other ecosystems.”

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the formal supporting scientific advisory body for the CBD, recently published a ground-breaking report warning that “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.” In light of the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference in China, where the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will come to a close, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of CBD said that “the IPBES report will serve as a fundamental baseline of where we are and where we need to go as a global community to inspire humanity to reach the 2050 Vision of the UN Biodiversity Convention “Living in harmony with nature.””

In preparation for “the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework”, Regional Consultation Workshops were held between December 2018-May 2019.
The Third Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI-3) is scheduled for May or June of 2020. In September 2020, a Leaders’ summit meeting will take place at UN Headquarters in New York, which will “seek to provide political direction and momentum to the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”

In October 2020, the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15) as well as the Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COPMOP-10) will both be held in Kunming, China.

Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES)

Following the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka and the subsequent postponement of the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18), it has been decided that the meeting as well as the associated 71st meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC71) and the 72nd meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC72) will be held from 16-28 August in Geneva, Switzerland. More information about the venue and registration can be found here.

In March, World Wildlife Day, under the theme of “Life Below Water” was celebrated at UN Headquarters. The event was organized by CITES and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and was attended by high level representatives from governments and the FAO. The event stressed the “crucial contributions of life below water to sustainable development as well as the challenges faced in ensuring its conservation and sustainable use, while highlighting solutions to address them.”

In April, range States home to the Saiga antelope, developed a set of new priorities and action plans, with the help of the Convention on Migratory Species and CITES, to protect and conserve the Appendix II-listed species.  

In May, an updated assessment conducted by the CITES programme Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) revealed “that poaching continues to threaten the long-term survival of the African elephant.”

Global Landscape Forum

The Global Landscapes Forum will take place from 22-23 June in Bonn, Germany and “will explore the essential contributions of Indigenous peoples, local communities, and rural and Indigenous women and youth in achieving the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.” Representatives from the UN, FAO and World Bank will attend the Forum. Talks will include topics such as “Ecosystem based adaptation and wildlife conservation in mountain landscapes” and “Defending nature together: Tackling growing threats against rights defenders”. Registration information can be found here.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

In May, The FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched the “United Nations' Decade of Family Farming” and a Global Action Plan to provide help to family farmers, especially in developing countries. The plan aims to strengthen family farmers’ position and increase “their contributions to global food security and nutrition, and a healthy, resilient and sustainable future.” A complementary FAO publication titled “Putting family farmers at the centre to achieve the SDGs” highlights the importance of working with family farmers to reinforce the SDGs.

Additionally, the first ever World Food Safety Day (WFSD) was celebrated on June 7, 2019 “to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.” One of the themes of this day was animal feed and the role it plays “in animal health & welfare and in the production of safe and quality products of animal origin.”

Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), in conjunction with the World Bank, announced in May the financing of a Sustainable Land Management Project in Madagascar. The project “aims to reverse degradation of natural resources, while increasing the value of production, thus developing a model for integrated landscape management that can be replicated and scaled up across the country.” Actions will include replanting endemic plant species, compensating landowners that protect biodiversity on their lands and providing incentives for reforestation projects.

International Forums

From 28-31 May, the 2019 European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCAC) took place in Lisbon, Portugal. The conference addressed the themes of global climate challenges and climate risk management and resilience, among others.

From 30-31 May, the Communities of Ocean Action (COAs), held a Meeting in Incheon, Republic of Korea under the theme of “From Commitments to Action: Implementing SDG14.” During the Meeting, the members of different Communities of Ocean Action and stakeholders collaborated and shared information with the aim of finding “partnership opportunities” and encouraging “further pledges for ocean action.” The Meeting aimed to contribute to “the deliberations of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development” which will be held in July in New York.
From 6-8 June 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health held its 12th International Expert Forum on Farm Animal Well-Being in Prague, Czech Republic. The Forum provided a “discussion platform which facilitates communication and transfer of knowledge between veterinarians and animal scientists.” Some of the featured lectures included titles such as “Ranking global food companies on farm animal welfare”, “The OIE Global Animal Welfare Strategy”, “From field to fork: ethical beef for everyone”, among others.

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), will hold its International Symposium from 3-4 July in Bruges, Belgium. The title of the Symposium is “Advancing animal welfare science: How do we get there? - Who is it good for?”. The purpose of the symposium “is to develop and raise awareness of new ideas and to promote higher quality and better-focused animal welfare science.”

The Africa Animal Welfare Conference will be held from 2-4 September in at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa (UNCC-AA), Ethiopia. The theme of the conference will be “Animals, Environment and Sustainable Development in 21st Century Africa: An Interlinked Approach". The conference aims “to address the direct and indirect role of animals in contributing towards supporting the aspirations of Africa Union Agenda 2063 and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.”

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 © 2019 World Federation for Animals (WFA), All rights reserved.

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