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Compassion at the UNEA-4

News Section Icon Published 20/03/2019

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Last week (11th - 15th March) the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), the world’s most significant environmental decision-making body, met in Nairobi, Kenya. The UNEA-4 brought together over 4,700 heads of state, global and business leaders, senior UN officials and civil society organisations who joined forces in the battle to save our planet.

Several staff members, including our CEO, Philip Lymbery, attended the assembly, participating in events and meetings with UN officials, government representatives and partner organisations, while Philip also had the privilege of speaking at two sessions. Our delegation came back with exciting new ideas and valuable insight.

On a dangerous course

When it comes to the environment, food and farming are a big deal. Scientists have warned that we have just 12 years to solve climate change. Pollinators essential for a third of the world’s food are in steep decline and the UN warns that if we carry on as we are, we could have just 60 years left in the world’s soils before they are gone.

At the heart of this detrimental impact is animal agriculture. It is the biggest cause of animal cruelty on the planet and a major driver of wildlife and biodiversity loss. Additionally, it is a hugely inefficient way to feed the human population.

Immediate action required

The UN’s message is clear and urgent; we are currently on course for a planetary crisis. Global leaders and decision makers around the world need to take immediate action on pressing environmental issues in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as other internationally agreed environment goals, such as the Paris Agreement. The challenges that lie ahead are complex but the strategies for action are in place and the time has come for them to be implemented.

Duncan Williamson, our Head of International Policy, who attended UNEA-4 commented: “The need for political leadership is more pressing than ever. Governments and decision makers need to do what is right for the environment, animals and human health.”

Reversing the current planetary status quo

The UNEA-4 concluded that new policies and measurable, immediate actions are required at a global level in order to start reversing the current planetary status quo. We wholeheartedly support this statement which is in line with our call for a Global Agreement.

Philip Lymbery delivered our message and demonstrated how we need to move away from intensive agriculture, reduce meat and dairy consumption, and introduce more plant-based diets. “It was heartening to see the level of support at the UNEA-4. We are calling for a Global Agreement that will help deliver a regenerative and flourishing food system that will provide sustainable diets for all, away from the cruelty of factory farming,” he said. In Nairobi the battle lines were drawn. Together, we will win this battle; for animals, the planet and people.”