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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Animal welfare and the United Nations’ sustainable development goals—broadening students’ perspectives

Olmos Antillón, Gabriela; Tunon, Håkan; De Oliveira, Daiana; Jones, Michael; Wallenbeck, Anna; Swanson, Janice; Blokhuis, Harry; Keeling, Linda


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.


sustainability; animal welfare; education for sustainable development (ESD); learning environment; critical thinking

Published in

2021, Volume: 13, number: 6, article number: 3328