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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Reinterpreting the SDGs: Taking Animals into Direct Consideration

Torpman, Olle; Rocklinsberg, Helena


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.


sustainable development goals; anthropocentrism; moral standing; animal ethics

Published in

2021, Volume: 13, number: 2, article number: 843
Publisher: MDPI