UN Global Sustainable Development Report identifies animal welfare as missing from the Sustainable Development Agenda
What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
The SDGs are the 17 key goals identified by the UN as being core to achieving global development sustainably. These 17 goals are the engine of the “UN Sustainable Development Agenda,” a global initiative which began in 2015 and runs until 2030. These goals replaced the Millennium Development Goals, which spanned 2000 to 2015, and cover issues such as poverty, food security, health, gender equality, education, access to water and sanitation, climate change, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem protection, etc. Clearly, there are many ways in which these issues intersect with the well-being of animals. However, animals are not explicitly included in these goals.
The reason this policy stream at the UN is critical for involvement by animal protection organizations is because it determines the trajectory of global policy until 2030. Intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, World Organisation for Animal Health, World Trade Organization and beyond all align their work to the SDGs. The private sector seeks to prove that its businesses contribute to the SDGs, including the International Chamber of Commerce and major companies like Shell, Unilever and Nestle. Regional governance structures like the European Union and African Union also align existing strategies to the SDGs, and national governments are expected to develop national policies to implement the SDGs.
Therefore, the issues included in the SDGs gain global significance and trickle down from the international level to the national and local level. If animal wellbeing is included in UN sustainable development policies of the future, this can present a huge opportunity to catapult the consideration of animals onto the global stage. The global goals which will succeed the Sustainable Development Goals will begin in 2030, but negotiations on these goals will begin years earlier. This is why advocacy is needed now at the UN to ensure that we don’t face another 15 year strategy that overlooks animals.