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Special Issue "Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2021) | Viewed by 8620

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Harry Blokhuis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: farm animal behaviour; farm animal welfare; welfare assessment
Dr. Laurence Smith
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6JS, UK
Interests: sustainability assessment; life cycle assessment; greenhouse gas mitigation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A growing human population and rising incomes are resulting in an increased demand for meat, milk, and eggs. At the same time, the animal production sector needs to consider important environmental, economic, governance, and societal challenges, while addressing animal welfare. Five years ago, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the aim to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health and well-being, and create sustainable production and consumption patterns. Although there are obvious domains where animals can contribute to achieving sustainable development, this is hardly mentioned within the SDGs, and the welfare of these animals is not mentioned at all.

In this Special Issue, we would like to address the sustainability of animal production systems, including environmental, economic, ethical, governance, and societal aspects (specifically animal welfare) and their interactions.

We invite original research papers that focus on the extent to which the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are compatible, or not, with improving animal welfare. Studies can, for example, relate to the animal welfare consequences of reducing the sector’s impact on natural resources and biodiversity, or the effects of more animal-friendly housing and management conditions on SDGs or defining sustainable development options that include good animal welfare. Papers may also address underlying structural, organizational, market, and trade aspects that affect the interaction between SDGs and animal welfare.

Prof. Dr. Harry Blokhuis
Dr. Laurence Smith
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • animal welfare
  • trade-offs

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Improving Horse Welfare and Environmental Sustainability in Horse Husbandry: Linkage between Turnout and Nitrogen Surplus
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8991; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168991 - 11 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1248
Abstract
A scientific consultation tool is currently being developed in Germany to assess, analyze, and improve animal welfare on site and simultaneously consider aspects of environmental sustainability in horse husbandry in order to contribute to a resource-conserving and responsible handling of natural resources and [...] Read more.
A scientific consultation tool is currently being developed in Germany to assess, analyze, and improve animal welfare on site and simultaneously consider aspects of environmental sustainability in horse husbandry in order to contribute to a resource-conserving and responsible handling of natural resources and the welfare of living beings. To date, no study has assessed to what extent species-appropriate free-range locomotion possibilities are implemented on horse farms and to what extent turnout areas are affected by unwanted nutrient inputs from horse excretions. Using the indicators “species-appropriate turnout” (hereafter: “turnout”) and “unwanted nitrogen inputs in water bodies” (based on “nitrogen surplus”), we exemplarily examine animal- and environmentally relevant aspects of horse husbandry. We conducted 88 assessments on 46 horse farms (n = 2220 horses) to test literature-based indicators of animal welfare and environmental sustainability. We found that the indicator “nitrogen surplus,” used to assess an aspect of environmental sustainability, was mostly a problem in the wintertime (summertime = −4.24, range: −109.27–58.97; wintertime: mean: 12.01, range: −35.19–468.00 nitrogen surplus per hectare, n = 44 farms, p < 0.001), when the horses had a reduced space allowance for free locomotion. On most farms, “turnout” was provided daily for several hours, but in many of the single housing systems, not all horses had the possibility for free locomotion (24.1 ± 20.4% of horses per farm), which is unacceptable in terms of animal welfare. Husbandry systems with a large enough space allowance for turnout (≥200 m2 per horse) were found to be measures with a valuable synergetic effect, providing a resource which is an opportunity both for an environmentally sustainable and welfare-friendly horse husbandry. Demanuring remarkably decreased the nitrogen surplus (p < 0.001). Hence, based on the study, we recommend to daily demanure the pasture or paddock if the space allowance is less than 200 m2 per horse. In conclusion, regarding animal welfare, group housing is favorable, but regarding a site-specific environmentally friendly or even biodiversity-enhancing management, space allowance per horse is a crucial factor rather than the type of housing system. The two selected exemplary indictors demonstrate the need for a holistic and comprehensive decision support system that considers the linkage between horse welfare and environmental sustainability in order to assist peoples’ decision-making with horses under their care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
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Article
Animal Welfare and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals—Broadening Students’ Perspectives
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3328; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063328 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1629
Abstract
The mutually beneficial relationships between improving animal welfare (AW) and achieving the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) were further explored and compared to previous work. This was done in the context of a doctoral training course where students selected at least [...] Read more.
The mutually beneficial relationships between improving animal welfare (AW) and achieving the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) were further explored and compared to previous work. This was done in the context of a doctoral training course where students selected at least six SDGs and reasoned around their impact on AW and vice versa. Then, students rated the strength of the SDG—AW links. Lastly, students engaged in an assessment exercise. Students reported an overall mutually beneficial relationship between AW and all SDGs, yet with significant differences in strength for SDGs 4, 11, 10, 12 and 13 to that previously found by experts. Students considered SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production the most promising way to integrate AW targets. This study further supports the positive role of AW in the success of the UN’s strategy. Still, the magnitude of the anticipated impacts is modified by stakeholder, context and experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
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Article
Determinants of Animal Welfare Disclosure Practices: Evidence from China
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2200; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042200 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Public awareness of farm animal welfare has been growing. However, the animal welfare disclosure, as an important element of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting, has not been sufficiently explored. This paper investigates animal welfare disclosure practices as well as the determinants of animal [...] Read more.
Public awareness of farm animal welfare has been growing. However, the animal welfare disclosure, as an important element of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting, has not been sufficiently explored. This paper investigates animal welfare disclosure practices as well as the determinants of animal welfare disclosure practices of 2019 corporate reports using a sample of Chinese A-share listed food firms. Content analysis of corporate reports is employed for exploring animal welfare disclosure practices and an animal welfare disclosure index is adopted as the instrument for content analysis. The analysis reveals that animal welfare reporting is still in its embryonic stage in China. It is further found that firm size, board size, and board independence positively affects animal welfare disclosure practices, while CEO duality has a negative impact. As the first to examine the determinants of animal welfare disclosure practices, this paper would have some implications for academics, practitioners, and policymakers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
Article
Reinterpreting the SDGs: Taking Animals into Direct Consideration
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 843; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020843 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1557
Abstract
The United Nations Agenda 2030 contains 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). These goals are formulated in anthropocentric terms, meaning that they are to be achieved for the sake of humans. As such, the SDGs are neglecting the interests and welfare of non-human animals. [...] Read more.
The United Nations Agenda 2030 contains 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). These goals are formulated in anthropocentric terms, meaning that they are to be achieved for the sake of humans. As such, the SDGs are neglecting the interests and welfare of non-human animals. Our aim in this paper was to ethically evaluate the assumptions that underlie the current anthropocentric stance of the SDGs. We argue that there are no good reasons to uphold these assumptions, and that the SDGs should therefore be reconsidered so that they take non-human animals into direct consideration. This has some interesting implications for how we should understand and fulfil the pursuit of sustainability in general. Most noticeably, several SDGs—such as those regarding zero hunger (SDG 2), good health and wellbeing (SDG 3), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6)—should be achieved for animals as well. Moreover, the measures we undertake in order to achieve the SDGs for humans must also take into direct account their effects on non-human animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
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Article
Iceberg Indicators for Sow and Piglet Welfare
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8967; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218967 - 28 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1380
Abstract
This study identifies iceberg indicators for welfare assessment in sows and piglets to enhance feasibility and sustainability of available protocols. Indicators of the Welfare Quality® protocol and of a German protocol were collected over 65 farm visits to 13 farms in Germany [...] Read more.
This study identifies iceberg indicators for welfare assessment in sows and piglets to enhance feasibility and sustainability of available protocols. Indicators of the Welfare Quality® protocol and of a German protocol were collected over 65 farm visits to 13 farms in Germany between September 2016 and April 2018. Data were analysed using partial least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). A hierarchical component model was built (animal welfare = higher-order, Welfare Quality® principles = lower-order components). In sows, welfare was revealed to be most influenced by the principles good housing, good health and appropriate behaviour (path coefficients = 0.77, 0.86, 0.91). High coefficients of determination R2 indicated a large amount of explained variance (good housing R2 = 0.59, good health R2 = 0.75, appropriate behaviour R2 = 0.83). Stereotypies was the indicator most valuable to assess sow welfare. Additionally, the final model included the indicators panting, shoulder sores, metritis, mortality and an indicator assessing stereotypies in resting animals (indicator reliabilities 0.54–0.88). However, the model did not include the indicators lameness and body condition, which may be due to the farm sample. Welfare of piglets was most explained by the indicators carpal joint lesions, mortality, sneezing and undersized animals (indicator reliabilities 0.48–0.86). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
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