13 June 2023

SDG Summit 2023 - a historic opportunity to put animals on the agenda

World leaders will meet this September to review the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals and settle on a Political Declaration. Having read the zero draft, Senior External Affairs Advisor Anna Marry discusses omissions that need addressing.

2023 is a special year in international policy. It marks the halfway point to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious set of global goals focused on reducing poverty and hunger, ensuring access to health and education, gender equality and more.  

In September 2023 world leaders will gather in New York to review progress towards the SDGs and decide the course of action for the remaining eight years. One of the main outcomes of the Summit will be a Political Declaration, a zero draft of which has recently been released for consultation.  

Brooke has held special consultative status with the UN Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC) since 2018, which means that we were invited to comment on the draft Political Declaration.  

We welcome the commitments to leaving no one behind (which includes some of the poor livestock-owning communities we are working with), strengthening pandemic preparedness, prevention and response, and partnering with civil society across sectors. However, there are significant omissions that need to be rectified in subsequent drafts.

1. Animal health and One Health

The Political Declaration rightly recognises the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on stalled progress on the SDGs and calls for strengthened pandemic preparedness, prevention and response. However, what is missing is recognition that the majority of emerging infections are zoonotic in nature, and can only be addressed through stronger animal health systems. A One Health approach is the way forward, which looks holistically at the interrelated nature of human health, animal health and the environment.

2. Animal welfare

In March 2022 the UN Environmental Assembly adopted a historic resolution on the nexus between animal welfare, sustainable development and the environment. The Political Declaration should acknowledge the Resolution and the neglect of investment in animal welfare that threatens climate, biodiversity and human health.

3. Contribution of livestock to the SDGs

The draft Declaration makes a reference to the need for sustainable food systems, but fails to recognise the vital contribution of livestock, in particular working animals, to sustainable agriculture and food security.

We are continuing to work to put animals, their health and welfare, and in particular working livestock, on the SDG Summit agenda. Brooke has submitted comments to the Co-Facilitators of the Political Declaration and we have contributed to joint submissions with our partners, such as the UN ECOSOC NGO Major Group, World Federation for Animals and BOND. In July, we will be in New York attending the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to showcase the contribution of working livestock to the SDGs and to advocate for their inclusion.