There has been an exciting new development in the animal protection movement. The recent formation of the World Federation for Animals (WFA) offers a chance for non-human animals to be represented at a global level and for their wellbeing to be incorporated into the United Nations (UN) policy streams for the first time.

What is the problem?

Until now, despite many organisations and coalitions working on animal welfare issues internationally, there has not been the framework and critical mass required for co-ordinated action at the UN level. This is sorely needed as animal welfare does not feature as a unique focus in the work of the UN; animals are included in topics such as farming or conservation but are never considered as the main priority.

For example, the UN sustainable development goals – the global partnership plan that guides national policy making towards a shared goal of peace and prosperity for people and the planet – do not include any explicit mention of animal welfare.

This not only reflects an outdated anthropocentric viewpoint, and an unacceptable moral failing, it also poses a danger to human and ecosystem health. The current pandemic is the most recent of a series of zoonotic diseases that highlight the links between the wellbeing of humans, other animals, and our natural environment.

Role of the WFA

The formation of the WFA will fill this glaring hole in the work of the UN by bringing together the animal protection movement, to maximise efforts and resources and advocate for animals. It will also allow organisations to exchange ideas and information and support each other’s work. It was formed by nineteen founding organisations and has now opened applications for more groups to join.

Some of the first priorities of the WFA are a transformation of our food system, towards more animal friendly agriculture and a reduced consumption of animal protein; addressing the exploitation of wild animals; and the use of animals in research.

Early work included creating an Animal Manifesto, containing details of all the things the WFA will work towards. Investigations are now underway to figure out how best to upgrade the legal framework for animals.

First representation at UN

Animals were represented at a UN meeting for the first time when WFA attended the UN Environment Assembly in February and worked to have animal issues incorporated into the text of UN Environment Programme strategies.

Their recommendations included adopting a ‘One Welfare’ approach, and taking urgent action for transformative change to systemic problems, such as in our food systems.

OneKind has joined WFA and is excited to be part of what we hope will be a heartening new chapter in international efforts to advocate for animals.