Animal Conservation

The UN will explore the links between the welfare of working animals, the environment and sustainable development

Donkeys carry the heavy burden of carrying provisions, water and firewood for their owners in many countries. © The donkey sanctuary

A report on the links between animal welfare, the environment and sustainable development has been commissioned by the United Nations.

A motion at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), drafted by a committee of animal welfare groups including The Donkey Sanctuary, was tabled by several African governments before being unanimously approved by the 193 governments that make up the UNEA.

The report will be a collaborative effort between UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), WHO (World Health Organization), the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) and the High Level Expert Group for One Santé.

It is hoped that the initiative will help improve the value of working equids and raise global standards of animal and human welfare in line with the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include good health and clean water for all, to be achieved by 2030. .

Donkey Sanctuary Advocacy and Campaigns Director Ian Cawsey said it was a great outcome for donkeys and mules everywhere, as well as other animals and people.

“The international animal welfare world sometimes feels like a family, especially when we come together. Much remains to be done, but the need to act to find solutions has never been more evident. This is a great opportunity to create integrated solutions that the world desperately needs,” said Cawsey.

“For too long, issues have been considered in isolation when the combination of reckless human and animal interactions, unsustainable lifestyle and environmental exploitation leads to biosecurity risks creating a dangerous future for all of us.”

Cawsey noted that there are more than 50 million working donkeys and mules supporting communities around the world. “When these animals are well cared for, they contribute to sustainable life and help people access safe, clean water, while providing assistance and recovery from climatic events.”

Donkeys are also threatened by unsustainable trade in their skins, which are used in the production of a traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao. Donkeys are increasingly stolen, often illegally killed and their skins stored and transported in ways that pose serious biosecurity risks. Vulnerable communities not only lose valuable working animals, but they are also exposed to the health risks posed by the trade.