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The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has adopted a resolution about the link between animal welfare, the planet, and people. This resolution, which requests this link to be studied, was sponsored by seven member states: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Pakistan. 

The Animal Welfare – Environment – Sustainable Development Nexus was adopted on 2nd March 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. It is believed this is the first major UN resolution of this type focusing on animal welfare. In its characteristic UN wording, the text includes the following: “Requests the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, subject to the availability of financial and human resources, to produce a report, in close collaboration with the Tripartite Alliance, whose members are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health, as well as with the One Health High-Level Expert Panel, on the nexus between animal welfare, the environment and sustainable development by analysing the nexus between animal welfare, the environment and sustainable development, identifying key partners and stakeholders to consult, where relevant, in the preparation of the report, and preparing a summary of the findings for consideration by Member States.”  It also requests the Executive Director to submit the report for peer review by Member States and to report to the Environment Assembly at its sixth session on the findings of the report.

James Yeates, CEO at the World Federation for Animals, said in a statement the following: “We are proud of this watershed moment for the animal protection movement…It is a massive collective success for our members and partners and proves the impact of a worldwide coalition of animal NGOs. A holistic understanding of the links between animal suffering and environmental harm, and greater inter-agency collaboration with shared aims are critical stepping-stones for improving the well-being of animals across the globe.”  

The resolution acknowledges that animal welfare can contribute to addressing environmental challenges, notes that the health and welfare of animals, sustainable development and the environment are connected to human health and well-being, and acknowledges that there is a strong body of science supporting animal welfare. However, there is still a long way before the UN acknowledges that animal rights can contribute to addressing social challenges, notes that the health and welfare of people are connected to a plant-based lifestyle, and acknowledges that there is a strong body of science supporting veganism. It may take a generation or two there.