A life of their own: children, animals, and sustainable development


Publication: Book chapter

Policarpo, V. et al. 2018. “A life of their own: children, animals, and sustainable development”. In Changing Societies: Legacies and Challenges. Vol. iii. The Diverse Worlds of Sustainability, eds. A. Delicado, N. Domingos and L. de Sousa. Lisbon: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 203-225.

Where are the animals, when “sustainable development” is considered? As it is an attempt to address the problems of how life is becoming more and more threatened by human action, one might expect that the United Nations Strategy for Sustainable Development (un n.d.) would consider the place of animals in this major project of reimagining a liveable future for the planet. However, animals are remarkably absent from the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (sdgs) of the 2030 Agenda. None of the 17 sdgs explicitly refer to animals, and when they are indirectly mentioned as “fishes”, in sdg 14, or endangered “species” in sdg 15, they are perceived as resources. Animals are, therefore, absent, as agents that co-inhabit the same planet with humans, sharing a common vital condition and a history of co-evolution. Rather, they are indirectly suggested as means to an end: making a better life and future for humans, in (and not with) the planet.