Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, says Ghana and four other countries have developed the first-ever animal welfare resolution to promote animal-welfare driven innovations in pursuit of sustainable development.
He indicated that the resolution developed in collaboration with Burkina-Faso, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and South Sudan, was aimed at mainstreaming animal welfare into the global sustainable development agenda.
Dr Afriyie, who was speaking at the opening of the 5th Africa Animal Welfare (ANAW) Conference in Accra, said the resolution would be presented at the next United Nations Environmental Assembly in February 2022.
The ANAW is an annual conference co-hosted by Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) for professionals and practitioners, to discuss issues that cut across animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation.
On the theme, “I find the theme for this year’s conference: “One Health, One Welfare – For a Better and Greener Tomorrow, ” the conference would afford the participants the opportunity to assess and document the progress of agreed resolutions from the 2020 Conference.
It will also be a platform to share lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and how this was and should be informing and influencing decisions and actions on animal welfare, environmental and human well-being in Africa.
Dr Afriyie, noted that the resolution articulated the nexus between animal welfare and sustainable development in as far as environmental protection and public health were concerned.
He said the resolution would help address challenges emanating from climate change, high human population growth rates, environmental degradation, desertification and global pandemics.
The Minister averred that Animal welfare had become an integral and important part of the development of public policies for animal resource management across the world.
In Africa, he said animal resources were essential for maintaining the ecological integrity of terrestrial and aquatic environments as well as increasing national economic growth and improvement of livelihoods.
“Scientific studies from around the world indicate that animal welfare simultaneously enhances animal and public health, while providing social and environmental safeguards. It is now becoming apparent that the genesis of zoonotic pandemics are inextricably linked to poor animal welfare,” he noted.
Dr Afriyie reiterated that Ghana was developing its first National Biodiversity Policy; aimed at promoting the sustainable utilisation and conservation of biodiversity resources to promote the economic development of our communities and the nation.
Mr Wachira Kariuki, Director, Policy and Public Affairs, ANAW, stated that about 60 per cent of all diseases affecting people and around 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.
He mentioned that animals were the primary productive asset of around one billion of the world’s poorest people and that more than three-quarters of the world’s food crops relied at least in part on pollination by insects and other animals.
“This few facts alone signal that if we fail to adequately protect and respect the welfare of animals, we are likely to become sicker, poorer, and seriously malnourished. Animals matter at the very basic levels of our existence and they are critical to maintaining the ecosystems on which our lives depend,” he said.
“It therefore cannot be lost on policymakers and billions of people that animal welfare, environmental health and human health are all part of a delicate circle of survival that must be treated with careful consideration and delicate balance to ensure the continuation of life on earth and enjoyment of the attendant benefits of this intricate ecosystem”.
Mr Kariuki noted that “Africans were closely intertwined with animals” in their daily lives and that Africa without animals seemed unfathomable because the continent and her people had enjoyed special relationships with them from a social, cultural, and economic perspective.
“When environment suffers from our actions, we and animals suffer too from the suffering environment and the converse is true when environment benefits from our actions we benefit too and animals benefit too.
Let us choose actions that benefit our environment as that is a choice that benefits us and this can be achieved by focusing on the one health, and one welfare for a greener tomorrow. Which is our 2021 conference theme, ”he said.