6 January 2022

Five changes we need to see in 2022

Our planet, people and animals continue to face unprecedented challenges as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and an escalating climate emergency.

Bold action is needed from governments and international institutions to address the root cause of these challenges, and protect animals, people and our planet. Here are five changes we need to see in 2022.

1. A pandemic treaty that protects animals and prevents emergencies

This year, governments and the World Health Organisation (WHO) will negotiate a historic treaty to protect the world from future pandemics. At least 75% of new human diseases emerge from animals, so governments must address the urgent need to prevent pandemics at their source.

The pandemic treaty has to tackle the strained animal health services in low and middle income countries. More veterinary services and better disease surveillance will enable us to detect and stop viruses globally.

2. Animal welfare is recognised in the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 15 (Life on Land) promotes the sustainable use of ecosystems and efforts to halt biodiversity loss. But the goal does not sufficiently account for the welfare of working animals, who are adversely affected by environmental degradation and desertification. Working horses, donkeys and mules in particular play a crucial role in agriculture and commerce in low and middle income countries.

This year, we want to see steps towards updating the indicators that underpin SDG 15 to recognise the welfare and role of working animals in achieving sustainable life on land.

3. Further bans on the trade of donkey skins                                                                             

Large numbers of donkeys are being stolen from their owners and slaughtered for their skins, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The trade is growing in Africa and Latin America, causing harm to donkeys, the communities who depend on them and biodiversity. Donkeys are even at risk of extinction in some countries, if trends continue.

The Tanzanian government recently closed all donkey slaughterhouses in the country due to grave concerns over donkey numbers, a critical first step to making the trade illegal. This year, we want to see more governments follow suit and ban the trade across the world.

4. Better data on working equids

Accurate population data on working equids is lacking for many countries. This gap means that governments and organisations aren’t able to spot worrying trends and threats to equine populations, such as illegal trades and diseases. Policy makers need reliable data to make informed decisions to better support animal welfare and communities’ livelihoods.

We want to see governments regularly collect accurate data on their equid populations and report to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Look out for our upcoming policy brief with recommendations.

5. One Health must mean investment in animal health

Last year, the G7 and G20 committed to embracing the transformative One Health approach, which recognises the interconnections between human, environmental and animal health. But these governments failed to address the acute need for stronger animal health systems that are critical to implementing One Health.

This year, the G7 and G20 governments need to pledge One Health finance to strengthening weak animal health systems in low and middle income countries.