Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of global goals that provide a road map in guiding the world to becoming more sustainable, ethical and collaborative over the next 13 years.
The central goal is the eradication of poverty and hunger. However, there are also objectives to promote gender equality, to take action on climate change, to build sustainable cities and communities and many more.
Whilst many proponents have acclaimed that the SDGs are an incredible plan for “creating a world of dignity, leaving noone behind.” It can be argued that a major flaw with the SDGs is its anthropocentric nature which results in the absence of any reference to animal welfare and animal protection.
In the pursuit of prosperity for all, animals are still being left behind.
In their vision statement for 2030 on the SDG Political Declaration, all world leaders declared, “We envisage a world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. One in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected.”
However, in the actual SDGs which are part of an intergovernmental agreement titled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, there is no official recognition of the importance of animal protection.
It is time that global leaders acknowledge that animals matter.
Animal wellbeing is correlated to some of the world’s greatest global challenges.
For example, livestock is crucial to food security. However, our collective response to the growing demand for animal protein has resulted in “low-welfare intensive livestock production” and farming malpractices. This path is unsustainable and has led to numerous consequences, including:
- Global food security: where grains are diverted from people to livestock.
- Greenhouse gas emissions: as forests and pastures are replaced by arable land for livestock feed production
- Biodiversity: as natural ecosystems and native animal habitats are destroyed and the remaining natural resources are exploited.
Not to mention, the physical and psychological injuries inflicted upon the animals.
It is important for all of us to recognise that animal welfare is an essential element of sustainable development. Then, it is necessary to adopt measures entailing animal welfare principles.
By promoting animal welfare in development areas such as “disaster preparedness, wildlife protection and sustainable agriculture”, this will have positive flow-on effects on food security, environmental sustainability and the preservation of biodiversity.
Simply put, helping animals helps people.