The European Parliament’s Committees on Development and Environment call on the European Commission to intensify its work to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but miss the interlinkage between animal welfare and sustainability - a key to reaching several of the SDGs.
The committees adopted an own-initiative report on the implementation and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (2023/2010(INI)) which follows on the Commission’s voluntary review of progress towards the SDGs, published earlier in May. However, the importance of animal welfare is not yet reflected in the report. The Commission notes in its review that more progress is needed on many SDGs, including SDG 2 ‘Zero hunger’, SDG 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’ and SDG 14 ‘Life below water’. These are also SDGs for which improved animal welfare have a particularly strong relationship.
For example, keeping animals outdoors, on land unsuitable to grow crops for human consumption, and with low stocking densities not only improves animal welfare but also avoids food-feed competition (i.e. the use of arable land to produce animal feed rather than crops for food). Improved animal welfare thus contributes towards reaching SDG 2 ‘Zero hunger’ but also towards other SDGs. It will, when combined with more plant-based diets, reduce air and water pollution as well as deforestation (SDG 14 ‘Life below water’ and SDG 15 ‘Life on land’) and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (SDG 13 ‘Climate action’). Although animal welfare is not explicitly mentioned in the SDGs, the current treatment of animals hinders the EU from achieving the SDGs.
The Parliament’s report highlights that key challenges persist for sustainable development. It points to, for example, SDG 2 ‘Zero hunger’, to which improved animal welfare and dietary change towards more plant-based diets are preconditions.
Ahead of the plenary vote in June, Eurogroup for Animals urges the European Parliament to highlight that the recognition of the interlinkages between animal welfare and SDGs will support the EU in reaching its sustainability goals.