Cow and calf

"watershed moment": Historic animal welfare resolution adopted at United Nations Environment Assembly

FOUR PAWS is on the ground at the vote for the Resolution which highlights the nexus between animal welfare, environment, and sustainable development


4th March 2022, Nairobi – A historic resolution addressing the connections between animal welfare, the environment and sustainable development has passed at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in Nairobi. 

FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, attended the summit as part of the World Federation for Animals coalition. With observer status at the high-level assembly session in Kenya this week, FOUR PAWS said this was a “historic and watershed moment for the animal welfare movement, which was decades in the making.” 

The Animal Welfare – Environment – Sustainable Development Nexus resolution calls on the UN’s Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Executive Director to prepare a report exploring the nexus between animal welfare, the environment and sustainable development.

"FOUR PAWS has led globally on animal welfare for the past 35 years and there are not many more pivotal moments than this. This is a new dawn for animal welfare."

Josef Pfabigan, CEO of FOUR PAWS, stated his pride in the outcome 

"This Resolution and the subsequent report are vital to assist international institutions and national governments like Australia to tackle the root causes of zoonotic disease emergence and recognise animal welfare is a major factor in the prevention of pandemics.” 

“We need to see action within Australia to address the connection between animal welfare, environment and human actions, and the risks that our current practices present. Australia is behind our global counterparts in many key areas of animal welfare already, including recognising animal sentience, preserving wildlife biodiversity and ending factory farming practices such as battery cages."

Rebecca Linigen, National Director at FOUR PAWS Australia

This report, which would cover several significant considerations, would also include the development of an awareness strategy on this nexus for the benefit of Member States, including Australia.  

"The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare how interconnected animal welfare, human wellbeing and the environment truly are. Billions of animals are subjected to horrific treatment, cramped conditions, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and disease, minimal veterinary care, and lack of genetic diversity as a result of human industries. The appalling conditions make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk, just as we have seen with zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, SARS, MERS, and Ebola,” said Linigen.

How to Prevent the Next Pandemic?

Why this Resolution matters?

“The passing of the Animal Welfare Resolution will tackle the major issues of the nexus between animals and the health of global citizens, whilst simultaneously addressing the climate emergency. Many partners in the World Federation for Animals, of which FOUR PAWS is also a member, have worked towards this important goal,” said Pfabigan. 

“The Resolution intends to move the goalposts ensuring key and essential provisions to set out and acknowledge animals’ sentience, encourage national policies, legislation, and enforcement for the protection of all animals.” 

The Resolution also calls on Member States to protect animals, habitats and meet welfare requirements, in the context of halting biodiversity loss, restoring ecosystems, mitigating climate change, preventing pollution, reducing the risk of emerging infectious zoonotic disease, and achieving sustainable development.

“This is now the first step in the right direction but also just the beginning. Livestock production is said to be the single most powerful driver of habitat loss on Earth. The exploitation and abuse of animals in factory farms is both a tragedy in terms of animal welfare and a key driver in the triple environmental crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution.” 

"Time is running out. But the passing of this resolution shows that the political tide is beginning to turn on the most important issues we face globally.” 

Josef Pfabigan, CEO of FOUR PAWS


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Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

Main Phone: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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