The Colombian Ministry of Environment has given its backing to a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare: an agreement among people and nations to recognise the importance of animal welfare. In doing so they take this initiative one step closer to official endorsement by the Colombian government, and ultimately by the United Nations.
Claudia Patricia Mora, Acting Minister of Environment, summarised the importance of the Ministry’s move: “By signing the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare we are ratifying the commitment of the Ministry to animals and the environment.”
What does this mean for Colombia’s animals?
With publicly stated support from the country’s Senate and Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, it now just remains for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to give its backing before Colombia can join Sweden, Fiji, Cambodia, Seychelles, and others in being a full governmental supporter of the Declaration.
The support of national governments will be instrumental is moving the Declaration – known as UDAW – to the floor of the United Nations (UN) and achieving international recognition that animals matter. UN endorsement will mean positive, sustained change for billion of animals around the world.
Until then, Ms Mora noted that support from individual ministries is already having a positive effect for animals in Colombia, by “raising public awareness of everyone's responsibility to care for animals.”
The road to ratification
Colombia’s Senate and Agricultural and Environment Ministries have been amazingly swift in their public endorsements of the Declaration – perhaps evidence that the country’s politicians are keenly aware that animal welfare issues are closely connected to human health, food security and our environment.
The speed with which Colombia’s political figures have grasped the importance of the UDAW, and what it can achieve, is the result of hard work by – and a close working relationship between – WSPA’s South American office and Senator Elsa Gladys Cifuentes, who has become a true ambassador for animal welfare over recent months.
A natural legacy to protect
As one of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ nations – 18 countries recognised by the UN as home to the majority of the world’s plant and animal species – Colombia is stepping up to the responsibility of caring for their rich, bio-diverse environment and setting an example for the other 17 nations.
Maria del Pilar Pardo, Director of the Environment Ministry’s Ecosystems Department, spoke about what broad effects the sentiments of the Declaration can have: “According to the UDAW initiative, this ministry has a commitment to check the many practices that put Colombian biodiversity at risk. We need to do so as Colombia is second most diverse country in the world”.
Do animals matter to you?
It’s not just politicians and governments whose voices count. You can do much to help the progress of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare just by signing the petition and stating that animals matter to you.