Animal welfare and SDGs, a road with a long way to go
The contribution of animals to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations Organization (UN) is neither recognized nor explicit. However, there are notable areas where animals play an essential role in the context of sustainable development.
This was stated by Gabriela Olmos, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, during the V International Meeting of Animal Welfare Researchers that took place in Montevideo (Uruguay) where she indicated that understand how animal welfare affects the SDGs and vice versa it is essential to formulate balanced objectives that take into account aspects related to animal welfare.
For her part, in a blog written by the Mexican nutritionist Alejandra Gloria Piña, on the portal alianzaalimentaria.org, she points out that the 2030 Agenda provides for a development model “in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and other species are protected “. However, while the relationship between animal welfare, environmental welfare and human development is increasingly investigated and evidenced, there is very little recognition of this relationship and the crucial role that animal welfare plays in sustainability and development for people and the planet, in the UN discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular 12 “Sustainable consumption and production”.
In the report “Animal welfare at the heart of sustainability”, by the FAO and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, the need for animal welfare to be a priority for sustainability has been underlined, and recognized that production and Animal welfare are inextricably linked with ethical, political, economic, environmental and social issues.
Daniela Battaglia, an officer in the FAO Animal Production and Health division, pointed out that animal welfare is directly related to such fundamental rights as the right to adequate food and nutrition, livelihood, decent working conditions, and social justice in general; and with global goods as common as biodiversity and natural resources. (Read: Find out what to do to meet the SDGs in terms of livestock)
Animal welfare is also linked to animal health, and the human health and wellness. For example, farm animal welfare has been shown to have several links to food security. Stress and discomfort in farm animals increases the transmission and virulence of a number of zoonotic diseases, and stressed animals during transport and slaughter often release more pathogens. Protecting the welfare of farm animals can therefore be an important factor in slowing the spread of disease.
Another link that demonstrates the need for a more holistic approach to the dimensions of human and animal health is that of antimicrobial resistance. Evidence continues to show that the use of antimicrobials in farm animals is contributing to increased resistance to antibiotics that are important to human health.
Growing awareness of the importance of animal welfare across the board has led to moves towards a “One Welfare” approach, which emphasizes these links, and brings to the fore a harmonized and interdisciplinary way of working to solve problems. complexes on animal welfare. This will lead to changes in animal welfare management systems at international, national and regional levels, as well as increase their political importance.
On the other hand, more and more companies in the food industry recognize that animal welfare is part of their materiality and report the progress they have made in their supply chain to reduce animal suffering and, therefore, support the objectives of sustainable development.
In accordance with what was proposed by Olmos, a methodological approach has been developed to analyze this interaction and its possible application in teaching, research and policy making, reflecting on the characterization of the relationship found between the different stakeholders, contexts and experiences. (Read: Water and the SDGs)
The methodology systematically assesses to what extent the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) is compatible with the improvement of animal welfare. The strength of the links between improved animal welfare and the achievement of an SDG is rated on a 7-point scale, from they are completely indivisibleat one end of the scale, until it is impossible to achieve the SDG and the improvement of animal welfare at the same time at the other end of the scale.
The analysis is based on discussion and independent scoring of each SDG. The starting point of this debate in a work group is taking into account all categories of animals: those bred for food production, work animals and companion animals, but also laboratory animals and wild ones. Subsequently, it leads to reflection on a specific situation and critically discusses the diversification in opinion and the reason for them.
In previous working groups at the international level, the results suggest a mutually beneficial relationship between the improvement of animal welfare and the achievement of the SDGs.