Press release

UN recognises the importance of animal protection in disaster risk reduction

22 November 2016

The importance of animals in disasters has received increased prominence thanks to a new UN agreement guiding disaster risk reduction which recognizes animals as integral to people’s livelihoods.

Following years of successful lobbying by World Animal Protection, United Nations (UN) Member States last week agreed in Geneva to measure animal impacts in disasters as part of the monitoring and evaluation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030).

Over one billion of the world’s poorest people rely on animals for food, transport and their livelihoods. Addressing animal protection in the global indicators will help governments include animals in disaster risk reduction strategies, disaster management planning and thus, reduce suffering and save livelihoods.

Currently, countries struggle to estimate how disasters affect animals. As decision-makers have more accurate and regular data on the impact of disasters on animals, they will be better able to reduce the risks that animals are exposed to and help communities prepare and get back on their feet more quickly.

Gerardo Huertas, Director of Disaster Management at World Animal Protection says: “While saving human life in disaster must be the priority, the animals that people depend on for their livelihoods should come a close second. We’ve been fighting for many years to get animals included so this is a welcome step forward.

“This decision will help show the benefits of animal protection in hard figures. This is more than just an accounting agreement. By agreeing that animal impacts must be accounted for, the world takes a step closer to full recognition that animals are a critical source of livelihoods and that the loss of animals has a significant social and economic impact on people.

“In 2015, the Sendai Framework recognised that animals are crucial to people’s livelihoods and must be protected in disasters and now the latest decision to measure how animals are affected in disasters will recognise the role they play to help build a country’s economy and maintain social cohesion.

“This will guide the disaster risk reduction policy and action in every single country in the world going forward and is a big step in protecting animals in disasters.”

ENDS

Note to editors:

  • For an interview with a spokesperson, contact Kai Akram on kaiakram@worldanimalprotection.org or +44 (0) 20 7239 0542 / +44 (0) 7772 296 256.
  • The final meeting of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction concluded on 18 November in Geneva with a recommendation that disaster related animal impacts will be measured as part of the global agreement to 2030. The social and economic value of animals and their relevance to people’s livelihoods is now recognised in the global indicators in two ways:
  • Target C: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global domestic product (GDP) by 2030. Indicator C2: Direct agriculture loss attributed to disasters: This will track the economic value of losses in crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.  Importantly, the measurement of disaster loss in the livestock sub-sector will not be limited to four-legged animals but will include all other kinds of livestock (including chickens and ducks). Furthermore, the data collected is to be disaggregated by type of animals.
  • Target B: Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015. Indicator B5: Number of people whose livelihoods were disrupted or destroyed, attributed to disasters. This indicator will now measure, utilising national/regional/community averages, the number of people affected because of losing their animals during a disaster.
  • In 2015, World Animal Protection successfully lobbied to include the protection of livelihoods and productive assets within the Sendai Framework. The wording is: “Strengthen the protection of livelihoods and productive assets, including livestock, working animals, tools and seeds.”
  • World Animal Protection has been working actively with governments, communities and individuals in disaster management since 1964. We have responded to more than 230 disasters over 50 years, providing aid to more than 4 million animals. Explore our history in an interactive archive. For more information on our work in disaster management, check out World Animal Protection disaster management blog.
  • To reduce the risks of disaster, World Animal Protection works with governments to create solutions to protect animals. For example, the Philippines face an average 20 typhoons every year – so it’s critical to have risk reduction plans in place for both animals and people. Since the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the organisation built typhoon-resistant shelters for farm animals. Not only do these shelters decrease animal suffering and death in the wake of a disaster, they increase a communities’ ability to cope and secure their livelihoods.