The Donkey Sanctuary has welcomed a decision by the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) (on the 2 March) to commission a report on links between animal welfare, the environment and sustainable development.
A motion to the UNEA, drafted by a committee of animal welfare groups including The Donkey Sanctuary, was tabled by several African governments before being agreed unanimously by all 193 governments that make up the UNEA.
The report will be a collaborative effort by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the high-level expert panel for One Health.
It is hoped that the initiative will help improve the value of working equines and raise global welfare standards for animals and humans in line with the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include good health and clean water for all, to be achieved by 2030.
Ian Cawsey, director of advocacy and campaigns at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “For donkeys and mules everywhere, this is a great result, as it is for other animals and humans alike. For too long issues have been considered in isolation when the combination of reckless human and animal interaction, unsustainable living and the exploitation of the environment is leading to biosecurity risks creating a dangerous future for us all.
“There are over 50 million working donkeys and mules supporting communities globally. When these animals are well cared for they contribute to a sustainable living and help people access safe, clean water as well as offering assistance and recovery following climate events.”
Donkeys are also under threat from the unsustainable trade in their skins, which are used in the production of a traditional Chinese remedy called ejiao. Donkey are increasingly being stolen, killed – often illegally – and their skins stored and transported in ways that pose grave biosecurity risks. Vulnerable communities not only lose valuable working animals, but they are also put at risk from health dangers posed by the trade.
Ian added: “The international animal welfare world sometimes feels like a family, especially when we come together. There is much hard work ahead but the need for action to find solutions has never been more obvious. This is a great opportunity to build integrated solutions the world desperately needs.”
The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation.