World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Crisis (1 hits), crises (0 hits),

Full Submission

Submission from the World Society for the Protection of Animals International to the compilation document in preparation of the Rio+20 zero draft

1. General ? about WSPA International

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is an international organisation which has been working to promote animal welfare for more than 25 years. Working on the ground with communities, owners and local partners, WSPA is active in over 50 countries. It has consultative status at the Council of Europe and the United Nations and collaborates with national governments, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health. WSPA is also the world leader in animal-focused disaster response and risk reduction working with partner organisations, governments, humanitarian groups and international agencies. With 30 years of experience, we are often the only animal organisation able to access disaster-struck regions.i

2. What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, including views on the Outcome document?

Rio+20 outcomes must recognise the role and impact of animal agriculture and result in specific and ambitious commitments on livestock systems and humane and sustainable agriculture. Specific commitments need to be made at Rio+20 on global agriculture systems and food supply to achieve global food security without jeopardizing ecosystems and compromising human and animal health and welfare. Food and agriculture are key sectoral priorities but need to be at the heart of all relevant UN policy and work programmes post Rio+20 given their importance and the rapid changes taking place in the food system.ii We support proposals for a detailed framework for action with targets, financing and we propose the following elements which should be incorporated. We also submit proposals on the Green Economy, Emerging issues and Institutional Framework.

3. Actions to be implemented and concrete proposals

WSPA makes five recommendations and asks that these be included in the outcome document: Recognize the positive role livestock and animal welfare can have in achieving sustainable agriculture and incorporate specific and regionally-sensitive policies and measures which ensure that global food production is both humane and sustainable.

Promote and support - through investment in research and development - humane, integrated livestock farming systems to ensure farmers? livelihoods and the climate resiliency of rural communities; Phase out subsidies and public investment for unsustainable, intensive farming systems while providing support for farmers rearing livestock humanely and sustainably;

Recognize the importance of livestock in economic development and the role farm animals play in helping to lift people out of poverty and build sustainable livelihoods in developing countries. Recognise and address the challenge of unsustainable demand for farm animal products Concrete proposals - more detailed measures in a Framework for Action could include: shifting subsidies away from industrial systems toward more humane, sustainable systems of animal agriculture that protect animal welfare and the environment;

fiscal measures which internalize environmental and social costs; publicly funded research into breeds and production systems that deliver better animal welfare and environmental and economic outcomes;

farmer advice, education and assistance, and promotion of good agricultural practice, especially for small farmers; technology transfer and development aid based on higher welfare systems, including through the promotion and sharing of best agricultural practices;

encouragement of sustainable and humane diets through education and measures which affect behaviour change including labelling and marketing schemes to promote welfare friendly food; strengthen legislation, e.g. environmental and animal welfare legislation and effective monitoring and enforcement of existing welfare legislation;

promotion and implementation of investment policies that support good animal welfare; ensure that businesses adopt and implement social responsibility policies across the board, based on ISO26000 (which includes respect for animal welfare) public procurement (e.g. for schools, hospitals) where applicable to source humane and sustainable meat and dairy meals.

4. The green economy theme- why farming & livestock are key

Livestock are central to the Green Economy ? global and regional recognition and action is required both to support humane and sustainable animal agriculture which protects livelihoods and the environment and to end unsustainable forms of production and consumption There is huge potential but currently limited understanding of the opportunities presented by humane sustainable farming systems, or the impact of animal agriculture on the Green Economy - from backyard systems to large scale industrial production.

Whilst it is often poorly recognised, the livestock sector employs around 1.3 billion people and about a billion of the world?s poorest people depend on animals for food, income, transport, social status, and security. Livestock products also form a significant part of the global diet.

Rates of livestock production and consumption are increasing rapidly and currently this growth is based mainly on industrial systems. This transformation can reduce smaller scale producer viability as well as put an unacceptable strain on natural resources. Traditional mixed family farms are often squeezed out as formal markets, based on industrialised systems, gain hold. Evidence suggests that as the industrial livestock sector develops, small-scale producers are squeezed out.

A recent report comparing pasture and intensive dairy systems in the UK illustrates that, in some cases, the economic viability of higher welfare systems can be superior to industrial systems. v Yet too often governments support large scale industrial farming, assuming misguidedly that it is always better for jobs and local economies. Implementing humane and sustainable livestock farming practices will provide the opportunity to ensure that jobs and livelihoods as well as nutrition, especially in developing countries and rural areas, are safeguarded and improved. This means Rio+20 outcomes should commit to:

ensuring that all food production that involves livestock is ultimately based on high welfare, sustainable systems globally; guarantee that farmers have sufficient reward (in the market place or via public support) for producing high welfare and sustainable livestock produce;

engaging consumers in the processes of change, in terms of what and how much they buy and consume. The ongoing discussions on sustainable consumption and production must focus on ensuring we can meet the challenges of changing global consumption patterns and that food and feed distribution is more equitable. Better animal welfare in farm systems can support sustainable food production: Higher welfare animal production systems often require fewer inputs of grain feed, fuel and water. Pasture based systems can utilise land otherwise unfit for production.

They also keep animals at stocking densities that reduce the risk of major pollution and disease spread, and use breeds often more robust and resilient to environmental challenges than breeds chosen primarily for high yield. Other benefits compared to industrial systems include better nutrient cycling, enhancing product quality and therefore profits and consequent enhanced food security and resilience against Pasture and mixed farm systems can have multiple benefits ? such as enhanced biodiversity and landscape, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration in well maintained grazing systems.

5. Emerging issues

a. Improving food security and public health

The industrial production of livestock, which is heavily reliant on imported grain and protein, combined with unsustainable levels of consumption of animal proteins in industrialised countries are important drivers of global food insecurity and ill health. Rio+20 must ensure investment in more humane and sustainable farming systems - which can secure livelihood and nutrition needs in developing countries whilst reducing the global demands for grain and proteins in industrial animal farming in developed countries.

Hunger is not a result of lack of food availability but rather the inequitable distribution of food ? there are as many people suffering from obesity as malnutrition. Despite producing enough food today to feed the global population, we still have nearly 1 billion people hungry. Billions of tonnes of food are also wasted each year in supply chains and by consumers. Public health problems associated with livestock production include food borne disease, and overconsumption of unhealthy levels of animal products. In addition, the routine use of antibiotics in industrial animal production facilitates the rapid proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Humane farming methods can be commercially viable, environmentally resilient and can feed the world. Taking environmental and socio-economic factors into account, innovative, moderate-scale, agro-ecologicalvii and humane farming is far more productive than highly industrialised farming and can achieve more diverse outputs of crops and meat from the same amount of land.

Ensuring developing country farmers can achieve good levels of production using these methods will require international investment, support and collaboration.

Feeding a growing world population will also mean achieving changes in consumption patterns ? with less but higher standard meat and dairy in western diets ? as well as tackling waste.

b. Climate change mitigation and adaption

Global livestock production has major climate impacts. But further intensification and industrialisation ? which will create greater environmental harm and exacerbate animal welfare problems - is not the solution. Rio+20 outcomes need to recognise that humane, sustainable farming systems can enhance climate mitigation and farmer resilience against climate related pressure and shocks. Farmers also need support in adapting to new climatic conditions. Livestock production is well recognised as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.x While some analyses of the climate impact of farm systems have led to propositions that further intensifying animal agriculture is a solution, these assessments often fail to account fully for emissions such as those from land use change associated with imported feed, and the potential for carbon capture (sequestration) in permanent pasture, extensive systems. Such analyses also often ignore the most disturbing waste in industrial scale animal production systems, for example where offspring considered unsuitable for production are born simply to be killed at birth, as in egg laying chickens or some dairy systems.

It is not justifiable to push for ever further intensification of dairy, pigs and poultry to tackle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions, as these highly industrialised systems are often already disastrous for animal welfare. Expanding large scale industrial production would exacerbate this trend while fuelling increases in production, in demand and an overall increase in sector impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. Left unchecked, by 2050, animal production is predicted to account for 70% of the sustainable level of all global GHG emissions.

Measures to mitigate climate emissions in livestock could include technical and management options, such as alternative feeds and breeds. These must be based on high animal welfare standards and must be accompanied by the integration of livestock into broader environmental services and addressing sustainability in consumption. Impact assessment should include animal welfare, land use, pollution, public health, rural economies and poverty effects. Careful attention to and support for adaption by livestock producers, with adequate financing, will be vital. xiii Climate change will have far-reaching consequences for dairy and meat production especially in vulnerable parts of the world. The impact of climate change can heighten the vulnerability of livestock systems and reinforce existing factors that are affecting production systems such as drought.

Breeds suited to the environment locally and which fit into a more humane production system often can be more robust and resilient than industrially produced breeds.

There is a strong connection between climate adaptation and disaster management for livestock, such as seen recently in the current Crisis in the Horn of Africa where livestock have such a central role in lives and livelihoods. WSPA Is involved in disaster management programmes around the world and animals must be included as part of disaster preparedness.

c. Tackling biodiversity damage

Producing feed for livestock is one of the largest drivers of global biodiversity and natural systems damage. Rio outcomes need to promote integrated crop and livestock systems which ensure animal welfare, reduce the need for high levels of cereal and protein feeds and which are based on agro-ecological methods. Grazing and feed crop production for livestock is the largest human use of land. Industrial animal agriculture production relies on imported grain and protein production, much more so than robust extensive higher welfare farming. Conversion of biodiverse-rich ecosystems such as rainforest and savannah to produce feed for industrial pig and poultry farming is not sustainable Many low input, extensive systems, while having land requirements, need few or no feed imports and are often located in areas unsuitable for production of food crops e.g. uplands. There are sectors where higher welfare systems do need feed as well as land (such as free-range poultry), and this brings the issue of consumption levels to the fore which needs to be addressed. Land use and land use change is one of the greatest causes of biodiversity loss ? yet such biodiversity is necessary for balance of the world?s ecosystems and for diverse human benefits.

6. Institutional frameworks for Sustainable Development

Rio+20 needs to result in a strong commitment to policies and financial mechanisms which incorporate specific and regionally-sensitive measures to achieve sustainable animal agriculture that respects animals, people, and the planet. The process must be inclusive and respect the needs of those with no voice, including sentient animals.xv A detailed framework for action is needed with short term goals (by 2014) on promoting best practice, challenging the trend for more industrialised production and setting research, development and investment programmes in place which prioritises humane, sustainable animal agriculture that respects animals, people, and the planet In the medium and longer term, policies at national and international level to tackle production, supply chains and consumption will be required.

A new approach to implementing this framework is needed which involves stakeholders in farming, sustainability initiatives and animal welfare experts. Involvement of major finance, global farming and food corporations is insufficient to ensure good programme or policy design. Such players will be needed and can be valuable to pursue good practice on a large scale but a far wider range of voices are needed to design effective humane sustainable solutions for sustainable development.

Contact Basia Romanowicz
Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New