FAO in China

Animal welfare, the issue we need to care about


We often hear about human welfare, but what do you know about animal welfare and why it is so important? The welfare of animals and the welfare of humans are closely linked. In many regions, a secure supply of food for people depends on the health and well being of animals, which depend on the care and nutrition animals receive.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way its animals are treated,” said Vincent Martin, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative in China and DPR Korea, quoting Gandhi at the opening ceremony of World Conference on Farm Animal Welfare (WCFAW) on 19 September.

The third WCFAW, which has received global attention and expectation, was held in Qingdao, China. The conference was co-sponsored by FAO and China Association for the Promotion for International Agricultural Cooperation, and co-organized by International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare and Wanyao Yuanda Exhibition Company. The two-day conference featured the theme “Market-driven Improvement, Product Quality Upgrading, One Health for All”.

Nearly 400 people from around the world, including representatives of international organizations, institutions, academia and livestock companies, gathered together at the conference to discuss the experience and standards of animal welfare implementation, the sustainable development of animal husbandry, the quality development of agricultural products, and the role of animal welfare in branding.

China has made significant progress in the field of animal welfare in recent years, by increasing the level of awareness on this important issue and sharing experiences with the rest of the world through this yearly gathering. But a lot still needs to be done. Vincent pointed out that animal welfare is a long-term undertaking and that FAO is willing to contribute to animal welfare in China and the world in areas such as policy advisory, standards development, capacity building and awareness raising.

Zhai Huqu, Chairman of the China Association for the Promotion for International Agricultural Cooperation, highlighted that animal welfare is an indication of the progress of human civilization and a symbol of the overall level of human welfare, and is related to the international prestige of a country. Farm animal welfare is closely related to human health. The concept of healthy and high-quality carried by animal welfare products is recognized by more and more consumers. The driving of market will greatly promote the development of animal welfare industry chain.

Ma Youxiang, Chief Officer of Animal Husbandry of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, said in his opening speech that since the founding of the People's Republic of China 70 years ago, the development of China's animal husbandry has crossed the two major steps of solving supply problems and solving quality and safety issues, and steadily moving towards a high-quality development stage. Along with the sustained and healthy development of the animal husbandry, the farm animal welfare business has also developed at the same time and achieved remarkable results. In the next step, China will continue to comply with the objective requirements of economic and social development and actively promote animal welfare.

Animal welfare needs to be addressed in a holistic way, as it is part of a broader system that includes food safety and security, human and animal health, environmental and ecological development, as well as sustainable development. Animal welfare is also a shared responsibility among governments, communities, the people who own, care for and use animals, civil society, educational institutions, veterinarians and scientists.

Animal welfare is at the heart of FAO’s mandate to address food insecurity and malnutrition, in contribution to the achievement of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have been solemnly adopted by the member countries. Specifically, animal welfare is key to achieving SDG 2 on hunger eradiation and SDG12 on sustainable consumption. FAO’s policy has made it clear to treat the welfare of animals as a priority in all livestock systems globally and as a means to improved animal husbandry and health. We are dedicated to promoting knowledge sharing, education, training and capacity development, field programme as well as responsible investment in animal welfare and suitable livestock development.