International policy and what it means for animals.
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October 2018

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 Environment

The theme for the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 4), scheduled for March 2019, is “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.” This theme presents a strong opportunity for animal protection organizations, particularly those working on food and farmed animal issues and the development of alternative sources of protein. UN Environment has prepared an information note about this theme, as well as a roadmap of activities leading up to UNEA 4.

Regional preparation meetings are now taking place ahead of UNEA 4:

  • Europe Regional Consultation, 3 – 4 September
  • Africa Regional Consultation, 15 – 16 September
  • West Asia Regional Consultation, 30 October
  • Asia Pacific Regional Consultation, 5 – 9 January
  • North American Regional Consultation, TBD

The European Regional Consultation was attended by Compassion in World Farming and Cruelty Free International. These organizations successfully inserted coverage of their respective issues into the draft outcome document from this meeting.

The African Regional Consultation was attended by World Animal Net. This meeting was held to prepare for both UNEA 4 and the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The only animal protection organizations present were WAN and the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW). The format of the meeting, and lack of broad animal protection representation, made it difficult to influence all issues. There were five simultaneous working groups, with WAN attending the one on “Sustainable Food Systems and Food Security in Africa”. While WAN was able to insert many animal protection issues into the first group presentation, the entire proceedings were finally cut down to two pages, including an introduction and points from each of the five working groups, so much of the substance was omitted. However, more complete information will apparently be annexed.

There are still opportunities for Animal Protection Organizations (APOs) to influence the 2019 UNEA, and we recommend that any interested APOs obtain UN Environment accreditation now. WAN is happy to advise, and if you would like to join us in advocating at the 2019 UNEA please do contact us.

If you would like more information about UNEA, please take a look at our guidance document, which explains the acronyms, structure, and advocacy opportunities within this UN body.

Global Pact for the Environment

The Global Pact for the Environment aims 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 has been led primarily by France and has been developed through an international network of over one-hundred leading experts.

From 5 to 7 September an organizational meeting was held in New York to determine the modalities of the Open-Ended Working Group, the body that will be taking the Global Pact forward. This included the duration and number of future “substantive sessions.” At this meeting, civil society organizations pushed for the full and meaningful participation of civil society throughout the development of the Global Pact. A report on these meetings is available on the IUCN website.

It was decided that there would be three substantive sessions. These will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, at UN Environment, on the following dates: 

  • First session beginning 14 January 2019
  • Second session beginning 18 March 2019 (after UNEA 4)
  • Third session beginning 20 May 2019.

Each session will last between three to five days. Typically, proceedings at UN Environment in Nairobi facilitate remote attendance and even provide the opportunity for remote participants to present oral statements.

The UN Secretary-General is preparing a report that identifies and assesses possible gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments, and is expected by November 30, 2018. This report will include identification of gaps in environmental law, governance structure, implementation and effectiveness of international environmental law. WAN’s International Policy Forum is preparing a brief that will be distributed to the Global Pact co-facilitators and key member states explaining how animal welfare and concomitant issues can and should be considered as a gap in environmental law.

Note that the countries that opposed the resolution establishing the process for the Global Pact were the Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Turkey, and the US, while Belarus, Iran, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Tajikistan abstained. China voted in favor.

If you would like to join World Animal Net in advocacy on the contents of the Pact, please contact us.

World Bank

The World Bank-led project on Good Animal Welfare Practice for Agriculture Development is now moving forward in developing guidance for implementing good animal welfare practices for pigs, with a focus on low and middle-income countries.

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 Team Task Leaders will use to ensure animals are 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.

The outcome document will include two “tiers” of guidance. The first tier will focus on providing guidance on how the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare standards can be implemented in practice, as the standards can be rather vague and inaccessible to audiences with little experience in animal welfare. The second tier is called “Better Practices,” and is meant to outline those practices with better animal welfare outcomes, for example, eliminating the use of confinement housing for gestating sows.

Draft guidelines for pigs have now been prepared and shared with a select group of international pig welfare experts for comment. A series of web-based consultations with these experts was completed in September, providing an opportunity for in-depth discussion and further refinement of the guidelines. The guidelines for pigs will likely be finalized by the end of the year.

Guidelines for other farm animals, equids, and transport and slaughter will be completed in an iterative approach. The next set of guidelines will cover working equids. 

United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the Sustainable Development Agenda (Agenda 2030) took place from 9 to 18 July. The Animal Issues Thematic Cluster (AITC) of the NGO Major Group, a coalition of animal protection organizations co-organized by World Animal Net, Thinking Animals United (founder) and Nonviolence International, actively engaged the processes leading up to the HLPF. This work has included:

  • Publishing a blog on the UN Sustainable Development website about how the consideration of animals’ interests is critical to the implementation of Agenda 2030.
  • The development of an exhibition that was hosted at the UN for the duration of the HLPF which educated attendees on the intersection of the Sustainable Development Goals and animal protection.
  • Hosting a reception at UN Headquarters to draw attention to the exhibition and the relationship between animals and the SDGs, with special guests Philip Lymbery of Compassion in World Farming and Leilani Munter, racecar driver.
  • Influencing official statements by the NGO Major Group and Women’s Major Group into the HLPF to include various animal issues.
  • WAN, Cruelty Free International and FOUR PAWS International attended the European Regional Forum for Sustainable Development in Geneva.

WAN was pleased to be able to leverage its special consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council to facilitate the attendance of representatives from a number of animal protection organizations, amplifying voices for animals at the HLPF. In addition, WAN was selected by the NGO Major Group to represent NGOs at the official session on SDG 15 (Life on Land) and Cruelty Free International was selected to represent NGOs at the session on SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production). WAN’s statement on SDG 15 and Cruelty Free International’s statement on SDG 12 were shared with member states and promoted by the NGO Major Group.

If you are interested in joining the AITC and participating in advocacy activities at the HLPF, please contact us.

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) will be hosting its Public Forum in October, on the theme Trade 2030, which highlights the need for trade that meets and achieves the Sustainable Development Goals. On 4 October, a session will be held during the Forum titled: "Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: The Role of Animal Welfare in Trade Policy." This session will feature a panel of speakers on this topic, and has been spearheaded by Humane Society International, Eurogroup for Animals, the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, and World Animal Net. Eurogroup for Animals has published more information about the session on their website.

World Organisation for Animal Health

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Code Commission met in September to discuss the new chapters on the welfare of laying hens, humane slaughter of reptiles, and rabies. The laying hens chapter is expected to be adopted at the next OIE General Session in May 2019, likely after a second round of comments to be reviewed in February of 2019. The new and amended animal welfare chapters are available on the OIE website.

Regional Updates


There will be a Regional Seminar for OIE National Focal Points for Animal Welfare in Maseru, Lesotho from 9-11 October. The development of this seminar was supported by the Brooke, the Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA and World Horse Welfare.

European Union

The 11th meeting of the Steering Group on the OIE Platform on Animal Welfare for Europe is being hosted by the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare in December 2018 in the UK.

There was an OIE Regional Commission for Europe conference on 17 – 21 September in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Asia, Far East and Oceania

The OIE is working towards the development of a training for National Animal Welfare Focal Points for this region. It might be possible to schedule this training alongside the Commonwealth Veterinary Conference on in March 2019 in Bangalore, India.


The Animal Welfare Focal Point training for this region has been postponed until 2019.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 24 will take place in Katowice, Poland from 3-14 December. COP24 will “work out and adopt a package of decisions ensuring the full implementation of the Paris Agreement” and will “include the so-called Facilitative Dialogue intended to support the implementation of national commitments.”

The 2018 Bonn Climate Conference took place from April 30 to May 10 in Bonn, Germany. Brighter Green was in attendance and made a submission with John Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future and Loyola Marymount University to the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. For more information, see Brighter Green’s update from UNFCCC.

International Whaling Commission

The 67th Meeting of the International Whaling Commission took place from 10 – 14 September in Florianópolis, Brazil. A summary of the event is available from IISD Reporting Services.

Convention on Biological Diversity

The CBD 14th Conference of the Parties will be hosted in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt from 10-22 November, 2018. This meeting is open to observers. 

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a series of regional scientific reports on the status of biodiversity in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central Asia. The reports show that pressure on biodiversity resulting in loss of biodiversity is increasing in all regions. The reports were approved by the IPBES in Medellín, Colombia, at the 6th session of its Plenary on 22 March. These reports will be used in the preparation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, which is slated for release in 2020, at the conclusion of the CBD’s strategic plan for biodiversity, called the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The Aichi Targets include useful points through which animal protection issues could be pursued. The reports are available in the working documents from the IPBES 6 meeting.

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

The 70th CITES Standing Committee is being held in Sochi, Russia from 1-5 October, 2018. The agenda and meeting documents are available on the CITES website.

Convention on Migratory Species

From 9-11 May, the Convention on Migratory Species co-hosted a workshop for Government Prosecutors on the Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean Region, which aimed to train prosecutors and investigators of countries in the Mediterranean who have current responsibilities for bird/wildlife enforcement. The workshop was in collaboration with the ENPE Life Project “Wildlife Crime” Working Group in cooperation with CMS with support from the European Commission at the National Centre for Environmental Education (CENEAM) in Valsaín, Segovia, Spain.

United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion

A new alliance on sustainable fashion was launched recently as a result of several events at the Economic Commission for Europe Regional Forum for Sustainable Development and the High Level Political Forum of the Sustainable Development Agenda. The World Bank Group has joined to support this new alliance. More information is available on Connect 4 Climate.

Global Sustainable Innovation Conference

The Global Sustainable Technology Innovation Conference (G-STIC) “aims to contribute a robust technology advisory system to the United Nations – effectively supporting a worldwide transition to more sustainable societies and economies. By supporting the discussions, negotiation processes, and expert meetings convened under the UN umbrella with the best available Sustainable Technology & Innovation reviews, the G-STIC series helps translate technology research into actionable agenda items for sustainable development and climate change policy setting.”
G-STIC will take place in Brussels from 28-30 November 2018, and includes the theme “Agro-Ecology for Sustainable Food Systems”.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has made important progress in addressing the problem of “ghost gear,” with an agreement to mark fishing gear, which was later endorsed by the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries (COFI). This agreement was spurred on by World Animal Protection.

The FAO is ramping up its work on biodiversity, with a new report titled: “Sustainable Agriculture for Biodiversity” and a Multistakeholder dialogue on Biodiversity which took place from May 29 to 31. Post-dialogue activities will feed into CBD COP 14 in Egypt and the next FAO Conference in 2019.

The Commission on Livestock Development for Latin America and the Caribbean (CODEGALAC) will meet in Lima, Peru in November. This is a commission that brings together regional governments and the private sector to determine a two-year schedule of work. Civil society is allowed to attend as observers. FAO provides the secretariat for the CODEGALAC through its regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Committee on Food Security (CFS)

The next meeting of the Committee on Food Security (CFS 45) will take place in Rome from 15-20 October.

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 © 2018 World Federation for Animals (WFA), All rights reserved.

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