Rio+20: Aren’t we are all the “moral stakeholders” in protecting animals?

Putting caring into action: youth join IFAW to clean up a beach in East AfricaTwenty years ago, at the now famous “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, 100 world leaders wrote a prescription for taking better care of Earth and all its inhabitants including such practical tools as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

A whole new generation has grown from infancy to adulthood since the Summit.

We’ve had 20 years to educate our children and imbue those values into a more environmentally-sensitive generation of adult consumers and decision-makers –Ominously, this generation has been dubbed by the UN as the “moral stakeholders of sustainable development”.

So, how have we done?

There’s evidence everywhere that many of today’s young adults “get it” in a way that most of their parents and grandparents never did.

Just last week, the New York Times described a recent surge of student interest in university animal studies courses focused on moving animals “from the lab to the lecture hall,” and building on science which had “blurred the once-sharp distinction between humans and other animals.”

However, additional research into the habits of young adults today, often called Generation Y (Gen Y), also points to disconnectedness between caring and consumption.

In 2010, Forbes magazine reported that, while Gen Y adults are more passionate than their parents about issues like climate change and animal welfare, their purchasing decisions are less likely to be influenced by the social issues they care about.

They want to preserve the environment and protect both animals and people. Yet, many are engaged in the same consumption patterns which brought about the current state of environmental and biodiversity decline.

We’ve got to keep working to connect the dots between what young people care about and what they do.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare Animal Action programme is helping to forge that connection by engaging more than five million young people, teachers and parents around the world each year on animal welfare and environmental issues.

We’re also working to bridge the gap between global policy and individual action by partnering on educational outreach with Rio+20, the Earth Summit anniversary meeting this June, and well as other important global agreements and initiatives, including the UN International Decades on Education for Sustainable Development and on Biodiversity.

Ultimately, aren’t we are all the moral stakeholders in protecting animals and people from human ignorance?

-Fred O’Regan

Post a comment


Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime