UN General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19


UN General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19

3 December 2020
Press Release
Animal protection and environmental groups call for animal welfare to be included in COVID-19 recovery policies at special session of the UN General Assembly addressing pandemic

Today, animal protection and environmental NGOs from across the world are calling on global leaders meeting at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the coronavirus pandemic, taking place 3-4 December, to address the wellbeing of animals in COVID-19 recovery and financing efforts, as well as policies intended to “build forward better”. 

As world leaders meet to consider the international cooperation required to deal with COVID-19, animal protection and environmental groups from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Europe have signed a new joint-manifesto outlining actions required to transform farming systems, shift food consumption habits, end the unnecessary exploitation of wildlife, increase vaccine development efficiencies, and ensure animal wellbeing.

Reports that the COVID-19 crisis likely arose from the exploitation of animals, as well as recent revelations about potential COVID-19 variants emerging from mink farms, has drawn greater attention to how human uses of animals can increase the risk of future pandemics. In July, a study released by the UN Environment Programme and the International Livestock Research Institute identified the increase in consumption of animal products, intensification of animal production systems, and wildlife exploitation as primary drivers of pandemic risk. 

To reduce the future risk of pandemics the manifesto implores global decision-makers to take concrete steps to incorporate policies linking the health of animals, the environment and humans into COVID-19 policy and financing to ensure a resilient, sustainable and humane future.

Animals Australia says:

The IMF estimates that the cost to the global economy of dealing with COVID-19 will eventually reach US$28 trillion.  The costs of transitioning away from intensive animal farming and other high-risk animal industries, which would reduce animal suffering and the risk of future pandemics, is a fraction of that.  The fact that over 150 global animal welfare and other organisations have come together to highlight the need for a more scientifically considerate and sustainable approach to rebuilding our food systems after the devastations of 2020 is a testament to the importance of these crucial investment considerations.  It is imperative that at this historic moment in time decision-makers around the globe recognise the need to transition to sustainable plant-based agriculture - and we implore them to do so.

Asia for Animals says:

The Asia for Animals Coalition proudly supports this manifesto and the call for it to be addressed at the forthcoming General Assembly Special Session. The UN must seize this opportunity and lead the way in showcasing a One Health and One Welfare approach for the treatment of animals and the environment, and ensure Asian governments prioritise these actions. On behalf of our network organisations around the globe and the many millions of members they represent, we respectfully ask that the UN considers the stringent action points set out in this document as a move towards safeguarding our future globally and the sustainability of our planet as a whole.

Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations says:

There has never been an opportunity like we have today 'to build back better', Covid-19 is giving humanity a chance to reset and acknowledge our interconnectedness with nature.  Science has proven time and again that zoonotic diseases spread faster and are deadlier when animals are kept in overcrowded conditions.  Africa can not be dealt a blow by 'paying for the sins' of the developed world - a world which industrially farms animals.  We call on the United Nations General Assembly to endorse and guide a transition towards a better life for all by promoting sustainable food systems that farm as close as possible to nature.

Eurogroup for Animals says:

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world, the question of how we treat animals has become even more central than before. One of the major drivers behind the spread of zoonoses is the pressure on biodiversity created by the loss of habitat. We're sacrificing the habitat for agricultural purposes, especially intensive animal farming. A booming wildlife trade also contributes to this phenomenon. If we do not address the way we treat animals, we will only postpone the next pandemic. It is high time for the UN to include this question on its agenda.

The Global Forest Coalition says:

Increased intensification of agricultural products has not only shown the strong links between an increase in demand for meat, deforestation and climate change, but also its effects on human health. Previous swine and avian flu events already warned us about possible future outbreaks, but despite this, intensification of farm animal production has continued. Animal exploitation has reached unthinkable scales, as live animals are being exported without regard to animal welfare or the potential for zoonotic diseases. Today we pay the price. Hence, we need to ensure that sustainable food systems address these risks and put us on the desired path of living in harmony with nature, including the way we relate to other animal species in relation to our consumption habits.


Download the Animals' Manifesto 

Press contacts
Jessica Bridgers, Executive Director, World Animal Net
+1 505 301 7233

Agnese Marcon, Communications Officer, Eurogroup for Animals
+32 (0) 456 078 038

The signatories: 

The following NGOs are supporting the call for animal welfare to be considered in policies and financing to build forward better: 

Action for Dolphins
Action for Primates
Advocating Wild
Africa Network for Animal Welfare
Alliance for Earth, Life, Liberty & Advocacy
All Life In A Viable Environment
Ananta Jyoti Dhayn Kendra
Andhra Pradesh Goshala Federation
Anima International
Animal Advocacy and Protection
Animal Friends Jogja
Animal Kingdom Foundation
Animal Rights Center Japan
Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia
Animal Welfare And Anti Harassment Society
Animals’ Angels
Animals Asia Foundation
Animals Australia
Animal Outlook
Animal People
Animal Protection Denmark
ARCA Brasil
Asia for Animals
Association Communautaire pour les Biens Etres et la Protection Environnementale (ACOBEPE)
A Well Fed World
Bali Animal Welfare Association
Ban Animal Trading
Bears in Mind
Beauty Without Cruelty (SA)
Big Cat Rescue
Born Free Foundation
Brighter Green
CATCA Environmental and Wildlife Society
Catholic Concern for Animals
Change for Animals Foundation
Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organizations
Compassion in World Farming
Compassion Works International
Congregation of the Mission
Cruelty Free Europe
Cruelty Free International
Darwin Animal Doctors
Elephant Reintegration Trust
Eyes on Animals
Eurogroup for Animals
Espace de Solidarité et de Coopération de l'Oriental (ESCO)
Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations
Fish Welfare Initiative
Forgotten Animals
FOUR PAWS International
Fraternité pour le respect animal
Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia
Global Animal Law
Global Forest Coalition
Global White Lion Protection Trust
GREY2K USA Worldwide
Help Animals India
Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust
Hollow Paws
Humane Education Coalition
Humane League Japan
Humane Research Australia
Humane Society International
In Defence of Animals, India
Innovation for the Development and the Protection of the Environment
International Aid for Animals Foundation
International Association of Applied Psychology
International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute
International Otter Survival Fund
InterNICHE (International Network for Humane Education
Japan Anti-Vivisection Association
Join Hands
Karuna Society for Animals & Nature
Kazakhstan Animal Protection Association
Lady Freethinker
Landmark Foundation
Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization
Let's Adopt Indonesia
Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection
Medical IMPACT
Melbourn Dolphin
Moroccan Wildlife Photographers
Moving Animals
MY World Mexico
National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society
NSPCA South Africa
One Nature
One Voice
One World Actors Animal Rescues
Orangutan Aid
Orca Rescues Foundation
Otwarte Klatki
International Organization for Animal Protection
Reacción Climática
Pan African Sanctuary Alliance
Participatory Development Action Program
PEACE (Put an End to Animal Cruelty and Exploitation)
People for Animals, Odisha
Performing Animal Welfare Society
PETA Asia 亚洲善待动物组织
Plants and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS Asia)
ProVeg International
Pro Wildlife
Red Internacional de Promotores ODS
Regional Centre for International Development Cooperation
Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, Bhutan
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth Malaysia)
SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary Trust
Sanctuary for Health & Reconnection to Animals & Nature
Santhi Medical Information Centre
Scorpion Foundation Indonesia
Sea First Foundation
SEY Animal Welfare Finland
Shark Conservation Australia
Sinergia Animal
Sisters of Charity Federation
Society for the Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt (S.P.A.R.E.)
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Selangor
Society for the Protection of Animals Ljubimci
Society for Travelers Respecting Animal Welfare
Soi Dog Foundation
Sophia Society for the protection of animals
Strategies for Ethical and Environmental Development
Stripes and Green Earth Foundation
Sugur Development Agency, Uganda
The People Project
Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College
Tounfit Avenir du Cedre et Mouflon au Maroc
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
Voice for Zoo Animals
We Animals Media
Whale and Dolphin Conservation
Wild Futures
Wild Welfare
Wildlife Alliance
Wildlife Rescue
Working for Animals
World Animal Net
World Animal Protection