Include Animal Welfare in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development agenda envisions a world in which “humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and all other living species are protected”.   The Agenda reads as follows:


This is the People’s Agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind.  It seeks to ensure peace and prosperity, and forge partnerships with people and planet at the core.  The integrated, interlinked and indivisible 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the People’s goals and demonstrate the scale, universality and ambition of this new Agenda.

The 17 Proposed Sustainable Development Goals

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment , and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

The SGDs and Faith Organisations: The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) was founded by Prince Philip in 1995 and was led by the inspirational Martin Palmer as ARC’s Secretary-General from his offices in Bath, UK.  It was a secular body that helped the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices. They created powerful alliances between faith communities and conservation groups.

In 2009 they held the first Long Term Plan event at Windsor Castle, UK and the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended. In 2015 they launched the Bristol Commitments as the faith-based response to the SDGs and published the book ‘Faith in the Future’ which outlined this response.

ARC closed in 2019, believing that they had achieved what they had set out to do, as the religions and conservationists were now working together.

The SDGs and Animals: In 2019 the UN Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) identified animal welfare as a missing issue from the SDGs.  It stated “The clear links between human health and well-being and animal welfare is increasingly being recognised in ethics- and rights-based frameworks. Strong governance should safeguard the well-being of both wildlife and domesticated animals with rules on animal welfare embedded in transnational trade”.

It is incumbent on the animal protection movement to address this omission and put animals on the agenda in the next round of SDGs in 2030.  AIA has a key role in being the faith-based voice of the animal protection movement here.  Animal protection should be recognised with its own SDG.

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