In the wake of the World Health Summit in Berlin (24-26th October), global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is celebrating the small wins in regard to animal welfare being on the agenda. But, there is still more to be done to ensure an interdisciplinary approach to guarantee that health is no longer seen only through a human lens. “We can no longer just think about how nature affects human health. We need to ask, what is the impact of human behaviour on planetary health and how do these behaviours harm humans, animals and nature” says Nina Jamal FOUR PAWS International Head of Campaigns for Farm Animals and Nutrition.
Jamal continues: “Health cannot be treated within its traditional human health silo any longer. The One Health High Level Expert Panel spoke of broadening the concept and confirmed that the interrelationship between animal welfare, human wellbeing and the environment are all equally important under the concept of One Health.” The One Health experts, also featured in the FOUR PAWS Future Study, confirmed that to prevent future pandemics we need to tackle the root causes. We can achieve this by reducing human contact with wildlife and its pathogens and reducing or better yet, eliminating factory farming.
FOUR PAWS has repeatedly focused on the importance of how we can all act to prevent future pandemics. Most recently this was highlighted in the Future Study in which 29 renowned international experts collectively rang the alarm bell for immediate action, and the move away from economic systems that profit from destructive industries toward an economic system that instead rewards positive practices.
The calls from the experts of the Future Study, and FOUR PAWS were partly echoed and met with action at the Summit. Particularly notable was the announcement by the Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin on the establishment of a new WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All. This council will look at health, instead of profit as an ultimate outcome and map ways Health for All can be enabled. Additionally, encouraging statements were voiced by high level policy makers on the need to recognise the link between human behavior, animals and nature by the President of the European Council Charles Michel, and Prime Minister Marin as well as calls by EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides for the need to restore biodiversity and enable sustainable food systems. No longer is the concept linking human behaviour and our dysfunctional relationship with animals and the planet an alien concept. But now we have the opportunity to introduce long-term plans to ensure that profit is not the only outcome. The WHS has shown that attitudes are changing, and this thinking must be echoed across the G20 summit and COP26 to guarantee an achievable change.
However, despite the positives, most speakers at the World Health Summit sadly still focused on preparing for the inevitability of the next zoonotic disease Whilst talks around a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response were discussed at length, FOUR PAWS hopes that the treaty follows a science driven policy which is informed by experts and does indeed focus on not only preparing for the next pandemic but preventing it. With days to go until COP26, FOUR PAWS hopes that the spotlight continues to be shone on the role of animal welfare and how vital it is that we consider the importance of diet change not climate change and how interconnected animal welfare, human wellbeing and the environment really are.