An event important on the world stage for equine charities is being held virtually this year because of the global Covid-19 pandemic, with those interested able to join the discussion.
The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare will be hosting their first virtual side event at this year’s United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On Tuesday 7 July (at 5pm GMT), stakeholders will be able to take part in discussions about the essential role working animals play in achieving key SDGs, and their context within two of the globe’s most pressing challenges: climate change and disease.
At this year’s forum, which runs from July 7 to 16, participants will focus on how to keep the global community on track in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. The SDGs, set by the UN in 2015 and due to run until 2030, are designed to move the world towards a sustainable future for all.
The charities’ side event: “Working Animals: Climate Change and Public Health Issues in achieving the SDGs” is being run via Zoom. It will highlight the essential role healthy, working animals can play in attaining the SDGs, while mitigating the spread of disease during the global health crisis.
The event has the support of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Senegal to the UN, represented by HE Ambassador Abdoulaye Barro.
Ian Cawsey, Director of Advocacy & Campaigns at The Donkey Sanctuary said that in some of the most challenging parts of the world, well cared for working donkeys, horses and mules are crucial in mitigating the effects of climate change and building resilience to extreme events.
“As a UN Environment report last year stated, donkeys are ‘a valuable mode of all-weather, carbon-neutral transport’. Yet up to five million donkeys a year are traded for their skins with all the biosecurity and health risks associated with the wildlife trade. We all want a safe and sustainable world; healthy working animals are an important part of that and must be factored into how governments respond to the challenges ahead,” Cawsey said.
Roly Owers, CEO, World Horse Welfare said that healthy, productive working animals such as horses, donkeys and mules play a vital role in contributing to sustainable development which has been overlooked for too long.
“They are the original sustainable power source, purpose-built for their environment, and transport millions of people each day, enabling access to clean water, education, healthcare and medical supplies, and markets.
“They are a lifeline for women and children, taking on the heavy burden of carrying water and firewood that would otherwise need to be borne by their owners. The financial boost working equids provide families, especially to women, makes all the difference to their livelihoods and independence.”
Environmental crises have proliferated in recent years with air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, deforestation, rising sea levels and heatwaves just some of the disastrous effects of climate change. Alongside this has been a marked increase in zoonotic disease (infection passed from animal to human), mainly caused by environmental, demographic and social changes.
Communities whose livelihoods depend on working donkeys, horses and mules benefit from healthier animals, which in turn prevents the development and dissemination of zoonotic diseases. Working animals support economic resilience in local communities — providing vital transport for the movement of resources as well as ensuring goods get to market. They also offer a wider range of opportunities for work-based and social engagement.
Working animals are a prime example of the positive impact easy, affordable interventions can have on achieving sustainable development objectives, while supporting many SDG targets — no poverty, zero hunger, good health, gender equality, clean water and energy, decent work, sustainable communities, climate action and partnerships.