Vets band together to form world-first industry sustainability body

A group of UK vets have launched the world’s first organisation dedicated to supporting the uptake of sustainable practices in the veterinary professions.

The group, which will be called ‘Vet Sustain’, has been set up in response to pressing societal issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, public health threats and animal welfare challenges.

It meets the calls of the Vet Futures and VN Futures projects for the veterinary professions to increase their prominence and influence in sustainability.

The Vet Sustain team launch its strategy and veterinary sustainability goals later this month.

The group will provide vets with a series of ‘how-to’ guides, training resources and case studies designed to help them promote environmental and ethical animal care and production.

Dr. Laura Higham, Vet Sustain founder, said the social enterprise will provide a platform for the veterinary community to come together and take collective action.

“Our profession already delivers a wide range of sustainability services to society,” said Higham.

“We understand the inextricable links between human, animal and environmental wellbeing. But it’s time for our influence and duty to reach beyond the patients under our care, to all animals that are impacted by human activity.”

Dr. Simon Doherty, a director of Vet Sustain and senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association, said that veterinary professionals occupy an “extraordinary niche” for driving the sustainability agenda.

By taking steps, such as reducing the carbon footprint of our veterinary operations, ensuring responsible medicine use and supporting regenerative forms of agriculture and aquaculture, vets can address the environmental and ethical impacts of our own activities and the sectors we influence.

The organisation is currently focused on three key topics through its working groups:

  • Food and farming;
  • Sustainability in veterinary education; and
  • The environmental footprints of veterinary practices.

By embedding and mainstreaming sustainability planning and action into the veterinary agenda, Higham is confident that Vet Sustain can support veterinary professionals to become a leading force for sustainability.

“To support a sustainable future, we must tackle climate change, and promote healthy and biodiverse ecosystems,” Higham added.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has given a recent stark reminder of the importance of protecting nature to also protect humanity.”