Leadership and Advocacy
We advance holistic solutions through unique coalitions to secure the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.
Advocating for local and global policy changes is a key strategy for safeguarding people, animals, and the planet against exploitation and for protecting the rights, health, and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Our advocacy work primarily focuses on transforming policies related to publicly funded activities, such as food policy, public health and research priorities, and local and international development.
Phoenix Zones Initiative advocates for just transitions away from human, animal, and environmental exploitation. This includes moving toward ethical and nature-based solutions that do not increase the risk for disease, hunger, global warming, or violence.
From Washington, DC, to the United Nations, Phoenix Zones Initiative works in the heart of where meaningful change can happen.
As an organization with special consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council and as an accredited organization of the UN Environment Program, Phoenix Zones Initiative advocates for international treaties, policies, and practices that address the root causes of global challenges.
Sustainable Development Goals
We advocate for further development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so that they promote the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet. As a member of the NGO Major Group, Phoenix Zones Initiative is involved in the review and the implementation of the SDGs. We help draft the NGO Major Group’s Position Papers, which address how governments should implement the SDGs and related targets, and the role civil society can play in achieving the SDGs.
We are also working with an international coalition to improve and advance a World Health Organization-negotiated treaty focused on pandemic prevention and response.
Preventing Global Pandemics at the Source: The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed millions of human lives and even more nonhuman lives. More than 10 million children have lost a parent or guardian to the pandemic. Deadly hotspots have included farms and meatpacking plants. The pandemic has strained the healthcare system and those who work in it. A shortage of beds, medical staff, and financial resources has delayed childhood vaccinations, cancer treatment, surgeries, and obstetrical care. Healthcare workers are exhausted, burned out, and leaving their chosen fields.
Although the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is still under investigation, a growing body of evidence confirms that ecosystem degradation, habitat loss and fragmentation, biodiversity loss, encroachment into wildlife habitats, the commercial trade in wild animals, and intensive animal farming increase the risk of emerging infectious disease outbreaks and other negative impacts on human and animal health.
Around 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals. Any effective approach to pandemic prevention must address the root causes of disease, in addition to disease surveillance, monitoring, control, and mitigation.
Climate and Environmental Policy
Phoenix Zones Initiative is also part of a global coalition to advance a UN Environment Assembly Resolution on the nexus between human, animal, and planetary health and wellbeing, and we work with a diversity of coalitions to address the root causes of climate change. For example, we call for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to address the role of animal farming in climate change policy as a key solution to limiting global warming to 1.5C.
Addressing the Climate Emergency and Other Global Crises: We’re in the midst of a planetary emergency that includes the climate crisis.
Government, industry, media, and other entities continue to downplay the bold action necessary to reverse the gravest impacts, even though we’re already feeling them around the world.
Addressing the climate crisis requires dismantling numerous harmful systems—including the role that industrial animal farming plays.
Numerous studies have shown that animal farming is one of the most destructive industries on the planet—including as a significant contributor to climate change. Emissions from farmed animals in the food system account for at least 14.5 percent of human-caused global greenhouse gasses—especially methane and nitrous oxide.
“We can no longer look away from or rationalize harm, or systems that impose harm, as necessary or acceptable. This is a new era for transformative thought leadership and Phoenix Zones Initiative is at the forefront.” —Kimberly J. Soenen, Director, SomePeopleEveryBody
Read Phoenix Zones Initiative’s open letter to leaders of the World Health organization and other international bodies.
Read Dr. Ferdowsian’s overview of how the meat and dairy industry is harming people, animals, and the planet.
National and Local Leadership
Phoenix Zones Initiative has partnered with a number of national and local organizations to advance legislation that improves the health and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.
Health and Research Policy
In 2022, Phoenix Zones Initiative worked within a national coalition of organizations to help pass the FDA Modernization Act 2.0, which ended the Food and Drug Administration’s 80-year-old animal testing requirement and opened the door to modern, ethical methods that protect humans and animals. This new law allows drug manufacturers to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs by using the most modern methods including cell-based assays, organ chips, microphysiological systems, sophisticated computer modeling, and other human biology-based test methods.
Phoenix Zones Initiative also supports the Humane and Existing Alternatives in Research and Testing Sciences Act (HEARTS) Act, which directs the National Institutes of Health to provide incentives to researchers to use new approach methods and to establish a dedicated center devoted to advancing modern, ethical research.
Phoenix Zones Initiative works on model legislation for national, state, and local government entities to heighten ethical and scientific standards in medicine, research, and public health.
Phoenix Zones Initiative creates model government legislation to promote prevention, improve ethical standards in research, and reduce and eliminate animal experimentation.
The legislation will expand prevention research, improve social determinants of health, advance protections for animals and higher ethical standards in research, work toward the reduction and elimination of the use of animals in research, and support technological innovation.
In 2021 and 2022, Phoenix Zones Initiative partnered with First Focus on Children and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights to convene a coalition of leaders in children’s rights, medicine, case law, and legislative advocacy. The group prioritized various policy initiatives as pathways to advance many of the rights and protections set forth by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since Somalia’s ratification of the Convention in 2015, the US remains the only member of the United Nations that has not yet ratified the Convention.
Phoenix Zones Initiative co-leads a national effort to advance a child’s right to a safe and healthy environment.
To uphold the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we support the establishment of an office or entity with the authority to oversee and coordinate children’s interests across all federal agencies and programs. This effort elevates child protection issues into the realm of other issues with cabinet level positions. Using other national and state offices as a model, the position would advocate for federal services that foster child and family wellness; address social and environmental determinants of health for children; and coordinate between federal agencies to better serve the interests of children.
Addressing Their Shared Vulnerability: Children and animals are vulnerable in similar ways. They have no political power, and social, economic, environmental, and legal constructs make them even more vulnerable to harm.
The connections between child and animal protection have been prioritized in the US since the nineteenth century when Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), used New York State animal protection legislation to successfully argue on behalf of an abused and neglected ten-year-old girl named Mary Ellen.