30 September 2021

EU panel explores working animals’ role in sustainable development

The International Coalition of Working Equids (ICWE) have highlighted the crucial role working horses, donkeys and mules play in supporting sustainable development, while speaking at a European Union (EU) event this week.

The event, Working animals: empowering sustainable development, was hosted through the Eurogroup for Animals platform and featured speakers addressing aspects of EU policy and funding that affect working animals inside and outside European countries.

ICWE champions the valuable contribution of working equids towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as no poverty, zero hunger and quality education as set out by the United Nations.

ICWE has delivered similar events at the United Nations, but this was the first collaborative presentation to an EU audience.

Ian Cawsey, ICWE Chair and Director of Advocacy at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “This is the first time that we have been able to present to the EU on the important role working donkeys, horses and mules play in empowering sustainable growth. There are many such animals in the EU and in countries where the EU works through its funded programmes.”

It is great to see the EU engaged on the role of working equids in sustainable development as these animals support poverty reduction. In Senegal, the use of equine animals as draught animals has a positive impact on increasing agricultural production yields and their absence would lead to a decrease in production. We must ensure their contribution is recognised and their welfare is prioritised in national policies on livestock.

Rouguiatou Ka, Advocacy Officer at Brooke West Africa

Rouguiatou spoke at the event, along with Abdeslam Bouchafra from SPANA, Gansly Jean from UK Aid Match Programme Haiti, Clementine Bonnin from the French Society for Working Equids and Elina Asbjer from Vets Without Borders, Sweden.

The discussion ranged from the valuable contribution working animals can make to the EU’s green energy initiatives to the important and interconnected role of education in animal welfare, the environment and social justice.

ICWE is comprised of four working animal NGOs: Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA and World Horse Welfare. All four charities work with rural communities around the world, supporting working equids and the people who depend on them for their livelihoods.

ICWE aims to help implement the OIE international Standard for the welfare of working equids, as well as encourage ongoing improvements to the welfare for working equids across the globe. It formed in 2017 as a coalition to improve communications with the OIE and other international organisations.