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New UN report calls for urgent action on all fronts

News Section Icon Published 15/03/2019

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On Wednesday (13th March), the UN Environment published the sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) report calling on decision makers around the world to take immediate action to achieve a healthy planet with healthy people.

The GEO-6 report, compiled by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries, addresses pressing environmental issues for which urgent action is needed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as other internationally agreed environment goals, such as the Paris Agreement. The report also explores possible future environmental trends and shows how governments need to implement effective policies.

The need for sustainable diets

The extensive report concludes that reducing overall meat consumption, as well as adopting a more plant-based diet and introducing plant-based meat alternatives would benefit human health and substantially reduce the footprint of the agricultural land use for food production.

Meat and dairy, from production to consumption, have large environmental impacts at a global scale. Although livestock production uses 77% of the global agricultural land, the energy and protein conversions are very low (17% and 33% respectively). This is hugely inefficient. Less meat and dairy consumption would not only reduce unnecessary animal suffering and greenhouse gas emissions but also help to prevent wildlife and biodiversity loss which are closely linked to animal agriculture.

Transformative environmental policies at a global level

We welcome the report and its conclusions on the detrimental environmental consequences of the current food and farming system. The report’s suggestions that new policies and measurable actions are required at a global level are in line with our call for a Global Agreement to end factory farming and promote the development of far-reaching policies. This is the message our CEO, Philip Lymbery, took to the UN’s Economic and Social Council last July and the UN Environment Assembly earlier this week.

“The message is clear and urgent; we are not on track to achieve the sustainable development goals. The GEO-6 report acknowledges that there should be a total rethink of food and farming policies,” says Duncan Williamson, our International Head of Policy. “The need for political leadership is pressing. Governments and decision makers need to do what is right for the environment, animals and human health.”

Read more about our position on sustainable food and agriculture here.