News | 21 February 2022

Putting sustainable food and livestock on the agenda of the UN Environment Assembly

Joint statement by more than 150 organisations ahead of UNEA-5.2

From 28 February to 2 March 2022, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will host the next Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2). In a joint statement today, more than 150 organisations from all continents, including Germanwatch, call for sustainable food systems to be a core issue of the Assembly, with a particular focus on animal husbandry.

In the context of the current climate crisis, the organisations point to the negative consequences of industrial animal agriculture such as deforestation and high land conversion, excessive emissions of greenhouse gases (especially methane) or human health, with the frequent occurrence of zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance being of greatest concern.

The organisations also propose two measures that could bring about a significant change in direction:

  • Acknowledging the links between factory farms, environmental destruction, and the increased risks of zoonotic outbreaks. UNEP could establish an action plan to enable an end to industrial animal agriculture in regions with high consumption of animal-based protein and accelerate a shift towards plant-sourced proteins.
  • Persuade governments, especially in the Global North, to take food systems and the dietary shift towards increased consumption of plant-based proteins into account when updating their NDCs and climate-mitigation strategies at the UNFCCC in coming years.