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Holistic approach to food system transformation essential

News Section Icon Published 7/28/2021

Yesterday (27 July 2021), we organised a parallel session at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit to discuss the ‘One Health, One Welfare’ approach to food systems.

The affiliated session - hosted alongside partners Action for Animal Health,  International Cooperation Committee on Animal Welfare, One Welfare and the World Federation for Animals - focused on identifying food systems that would provide opportunities for better human, planetary and animal health and well-being.

Opportunity for change

Jeff Doyle, our Head of Food Business in the US, facilitated the event, welcoming viewers and participants to what promised to be a fascinating discussion.

“The Food Systems Summit is advancing a global conversation about food and offers a significant opportunity for global action to recognise food’s central role in health climate and biodiversity challenges that are facing humanity.”

‘One Health, One Welfare’ in action

Dr Andrea Gavinelli, Head of the Unit Animal Welfare, Antimicrobial Resistance at the European Commission, spoke first, explaining how the “One Health, One Welfare” approach has been applied to the Farm 2 Fork Strategy in the EU: “Animal welfare is central to an important revolution in the approach to farming, and the part of the Farm 2 Fork strategy that is central to the reform of the food systems.”

Tracey Jones, our Global Director of Food Business, summarised the aims of the Food Business arm, as well as the steps they’re taking to meet these goals: “We use a positive engagement approach and a set of tools to drive commitments and ensure compliance to higher-welfare standards.” She then went on to explain that by “using our established tools such as awards, benchmarks, our credible resources, we aim to drive meat reduction and continue to improve animal welfare by integrating them into a sustainable food system.”

Dr Stella Maris Huertas Canén, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Animal Health, Universidad de la República Uruguay, and coordinator for Uruguay of the OIE Collaborating Center in Animal Welfare and Livestock Production Systems, presented the idea of silvopastoral systems as a way to implement the “One Health, One Welfare” approach in the farming system: “An agro-forestry arrangement that combines plants such as grasses and herbs with shrubs and trees for animal nutrition.” She explained that these systems have been found to contribute to biodiversity, in addition to benefitting animals.

Finally, Xi Chunling, Founder of the International Cooperation Committee on Animal Welfare, described the obstacles that her organisation has faced in tackling animal welfare issues: “In China, intensive farming is the mainstream and we need science to support our work.” She then stressed the importance of pursuing a multi-pronged approach to incorporating a ‘One Health, One Welfare’ mindset: “We need to proactively explore the approaches for animal welfare legislation, and we need to start with farm animal welfare to promote a green and sustainable development of the farming industries.”

Future at stake

A quick Q&A followed the presentations during which speakers fielded questions about the particulars of adopting a “One Health, One Welfare” approach.

Jeff then brought the event to a close, thanking all the speakers for providing their expertise and reiterating the value of this conversation:

“The purpose of these sessions is to foster this important dialogue, leveraging expertise from across the world as was shared from our panellists today, and to shape the future of our food system and our world.”

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