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New initiative unifies the veterinary profession’s approach to sustainability

A group of UK vets has launched the world’s first organisation dedicated to supporting veterinary professionals and vet led teams in being a leading force for sustainability.

Laura Higham, Vet Sustain

Vet Sustain has been set up in response to the pressing societal issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, public health threats and persistent 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. Recognising the unique “One Health” skill set and trusted position held by vets, vet nurses and members of the vet-led team, Vet Sustain has laid out its strategy for supporting the professions to create meaningful change through their work.

July 2020 will see the Vet Sustain team launch their strategy, veterinary sustainability goals and new website. The website includes a growing list of how-to guides, training resources and case studies designed to support veterinary professionals to 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,” explained 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 their 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 continued. “The COVID-19 pandemic has given a recent stark reminder of the importance of protecting nature to also protect humanity.”
Individuals and organisations interested in finding out more or supporting the growing organisation are encouraged to visit the website, follow on social media or contact Laura Higham.

Vet Sustain's Strategic Plan

Vet Sustain's Six Goals for Sustainability