AT THE UNITED NATIONS – Calling for a Global Agreement to End Industrial Agriculture

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UN sustainable development review in session

With a great sense of privilege and some apprehension, I stepped through the glass doors of the United Nations headquarters in New York for my latest speaking engagement.

Moments later, I was taking the stage to launch a new idea: that the world needs a global agreement to end factory farming.

As I uttered the words in front of an enthusiastic audience, I caught a real sense of how it’s one thing to say it, and another to achieve.

However, the stakes are high.

Speaking at the UN Headquarters in New York

Factory farming is the biggest cause of animal cruelty on the planet. It is also a major driver of wildlife declines, water pollution and soil loss.

In the forty years since the widespread adoption of factory farming, the world has lost half of all of its wildlife. The long list of casualties includes bees, essential for pollinating a third of our food worldwide. Soils, the very thing essential for growing food in the first place, is in grave trouble too: the UN predicts that, if we continue as we are, then the world has sixty years left before soils are depleted. And then what? No soils, no food.

And then there’s the sheer waste of factory farming. An area of arable land as big as the entire land surface of the European Union (or half the land area of the United States) is growing food to feed factory farmed animals. Those animals then waste most of the food value – calories and protein – in conversion to meat, milk and eggs. In this way, we waste enough food to feed an extra 4 billion people on the planet.

In a world of growing demand (more people) and shrinking resources, there are those who favour facing the future with this failed thinking of the past.

However, at Compassion in World Farming, we can see a much better way for the future; one without factory farming.

With NASCAR racing driver, Leilani Munter and Bonnie Wyper

I was delighted to join the stage at the UN with top female racing car driver and outspoken environmentalist, Leilani Munter who gave a strong rallying cry for change. Leilani sees hope in solar panels, electric cars and a move to more plant-based diets. We saw powerful footage of Leilani projecting pictures of endangered species from the documentary, Racing Extinction, onto the UN building.

It was a privilege to be amongst people from around the world who had gathered to assess progress on sustainable development.

Huge thanks to our hosts for the evening, Bonnie Wyper and Jessica Bridgers, founders of the UN Animal Issues Thematic Cluster (AITC). Thank you both for inspiring conversation at the UN for far-reaching change.

When preparing for the meeting, I had the great privilege to discuss relevant issues with UN Environment Programme executive director, Erik Solheim, a conversation still available as a podcast.

The road ahead is a long one, but I am pleased at the reception already received to our call for a global agreement to replace factory farming with a compassionate, regenerative food system.

I look forward to working with like-minds to bring about a joyous revolution for a kinder food system across the world.

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