Animal Welfare for Sustainable Development at UN Event

Animal welfare groups advocated for the recognition of animals' pivotal role in communities


New York/ Vienna, 25 July 2023 – Over the past two weeks, the United Nation hosted the High-Level Political Forum (HLFP) on Sustainable Development. The major theme of this year's HLFP were discussions around effective and inclusive recovery measures to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The World Federation for Animals (WFA) and its members advocated for the recognition of animals' pivotal role in communities and their welfare as a fundamental aspect of sustainable development, especially around working together to achieve better public health outcomes post COVID-19.

The outcome in New York saw some progress including the Political Declaration including a key commitment to protecting wildlife. But, in a significant step backwards, the HLPF removed an explicit reference to the One Health approach for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response strategies, which had been included in an earlier draft. The One Health approach recognises the interconnectedness of the health and well-being of people, animals, plants, and ecosystems. Previous Ministerial Declarations in 2021 and 2022 have acknowledged the interdependencies between human, animal, and environmental health.

Dr James Yeates, CEO of WFA; said, "Omitting the promotion of One Health in the Political Declaration signifies a concerning decision by UN Member States to overlook a science-based approach to sustainable development that increases the resilience of communities vulnerable to zoonotic outbreaks worldwide.”

FOUR PAWS alongside the WFA will continue to engage the UN Member States that will convene at the SDG Summit in September 2023 under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.

At the Summit, heads of state and government will conduct a comprehensive review of the state of the SDGs and issue the Declaration, providing a way forward to regain the development lost during the pandemic and accelerate the delivery of the 2030 agenda. During this period, the Federation remains dedicated to championing the inclusion of animals in the sustainable development agenda and ensuring their welfare is upheld for a more prosperous and harmonious world.

“This is a critical year for protecting human rights and animal welfare during the mid-term review at the United Nations. The upcoming UNFSS Stocktaking 2+ in Rome this month, the SDG summit in September, and UNFCCC CoP 28 will be very important to continue to recognise the linkages between the rights and well-being of people and animals. After last year's landmark UN Environment Assembly resolution on the relationship between animal welfare, sustainable development, and the environment was adopted, the 2023 HLPF Political Declaration must also fully recognise the key principles of the Resolution, which includes recognising the importance to One Health.”

Dr Jackson Zee, FOUR PAWS Director of Global Affairs and Disaster Resilience


The HLPF was held at the United Nations Headquarters from 10th to 20th July 2023.

The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The theme was “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.” In 2023, the HLPF is expected to adopt one negotiated Political Declaration, covering the different functions of its sessions held under the auspices of ECOSOC and in the SDG Summit, under the auspices of the General Assembly. The latest version of the Declaration is available here.

The 2023 SDG Summit will take place on 18-19 September 2023 in New York.

The UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment will take place in Rome, Italy from 24 – 26 July 2023.

About WFA:

WFA represents more than 50 NGOs from around the world working towards the recognition of animal welfare as an essential component of the sustainable development agenda. Founded by 19 leading animal protection organisations in December 2021, the Federation focuses on integrating animal welfare into international health, food, and environmental regimes, as well as in trade, subsidies, and development finance rules.

Live animal market

Prevent the pandemics of tomorrow

Sign here

Sophie Miller

PR & Marketing Officer


020 7922 7954

7 - 14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR


Share now!