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Friday, 22 December 2017 00:00

A Successful 2017 for World Animal Net!

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This year has been a year of substantial growth and development of WAN’s work and role in the animal protection movement. At the beginning of the year we assessed and refined our strategy, which includes three main Pillars:

An Annual Update from WAN1. Information, Expertise and Best Practice Resources: To develop information, tools and best practice resources for the animal protection community and other animal protection stakeholders; ensuring that these meet major needs, are accurate, easy to access, and well-maintained.

2. Animal Protection Communication, Collaboration and Coalitions/Alliances: To enhance, promote and develop collaboration and communication among animal protection organizations in order to avoid duplication and competition and to focus collaborative work on specific animal protection issues and international policy.

3. Animal Welfare Policy: To develop strategic animal protection advocacy and implementation support to improve the status of global animal welfare and the animal protection operating environment.

Following from this, our work gained focus and we’ve made significant progress on all fronts.

Here are some of 2017’s accomplishments, plus where our work is headed in 2018.

Information, Expertise and Best Practice Resources:

This year WAN continued to produce, maintain and distribute high-quality resources for the animal protection movement. These include:

1. The Model Animal Welfare Act
We’ve distributed over 2,000 copies of Model Animal Welfare Act books, a blueprint for effective and comprehensive animal protection legislation, to key policymakers and animal protection advocates around the world. This includes:

  • Animal Welfare Focal Points (representatives for the World Organisation for Animal Health who have been appointed in 181 countries);
  • Key personnel in developing national animal protection legislation in a number of African countries;
  • Representatives at the African Union Interafrican Bureau on Animal Resources to support their work on African Regional Animal Welfare Strategies; and
  • Attendees at the major Asia for Animals conference in Nepal.

So far, the Model Act has been used in the progression of animal welfare legislation in Guatemala, Egypt, Finland, Australia, and Namibia. Additionally, we have partnered with the International Center for Animal Law Policy at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona to translate the Model Act into Spanish, improving its accessibility to Latin America. The translation is slated to be ready in 2018.

2. Guidance for engaging Animal Welfare Focal Points
After a consultation period with selected World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Animal Welfare Focal Points (altogether there are 181 Animal Welfare Focal Points across the world, who are responsible for the implementation of animal welfare standards, in part through legislation), we published a guidance document to assist animal protection organizations in engaging their national Animal Welfare Focal Points and OIE delegates. This document lays out the Terms of References (duties) for Focal Points, and helps animal organizations understand how to develop a constructive relationship with these representatives in order to work successfully towards the development or improvement of animal protection legislation in their own country.

3. Best Practice Resource on Animal Welfare in Development
We continued to update, add to and analyze the contents of our Best Practice Resource for Animal Welfare in Development. This resource is being used as a basis of our work with the World Bank (for more information on this, please see below in our Animal Welfare Policy section).

4. Research and best practice in Humane Education
We continued and have now finalized our Humane Education pilot project in Malawi. This project had two objectives: to provide evidence for the value of Humane Education in order to advocate for the inclusion of Humane Education in curriculums and to influence alternative development models which measure societal success beyond economic output. This project was undertaken in partnership with RSPCA International, the Lilongwe SPCA, the Intercultural Center for Research in Education, the Centre for Education Training and Research at the University of Malawi, and Link Community Development, as well as the district education authorities covering Lilongwe Urban and Dedze Rural in Malawi. The final research report, as well as a teacher’s guide, have now been finished, and will be published and freely available for those interested in Humane Education programs in early 2018.

5. Directory and events calendar
With the generous help of a small team of volunteers, WAN continued to update and improve the International Directory of Animal Protection Organizations and our event calendar, which lists a wide range of events (including policy, academic, conferences, movie releases, demonstrations and more) related to animal protection all in one convenient place.

Animal Protection Communication, Collaboration and Coalitions/Alliances:

1. Development of the International Policy Forum
WAN continued to develop its International Policy Forum, which gained five new members this year and now additionally includes representatives from Compassion in World Farming, the Donkey Sanctuary, Brighter Green, Cruelty Free International, and EAST Taiwan. The IPF also has become a formal entity with a Terms of Reference, the opportunity for members to form working groups on specific issues and policy streams, and a specialized resource on international advocacy opportunities. Early in 2018, a policy roadmap will be developed to help coordinate advocacy among key international animal protection organizations with a view to maximizing outcomes and ensuring full coverage of opportunities. Want to keep up to date with international policy and its impact on animals? Then be sure to subscribe to our quarterly International Policy Update.

2. Development of an animal protection coalition to engage the United Nations
After engaging the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda throughout 2017, we are now honored to be co-organizing the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster (AITC) along with Thinking Animals United and Nonviolence International. The AITC brings together over thirty organizations with an interest in making sure animals are considered as full stakeholders within the UN system. Since WAN attended the 2017 High Level Political Forum, the key policy review mechanism for the Sustainable Development Agenda, WAN has produced a guidance document outlining advocacy opportunities for the 2018 High Level Political Forum. This document will play a key role in guiding the work and activities of the AITC through to the 2018 High Level Political Forum.

3. Member of the Africa Platform for Animal Welfare
WAN is now a member of the newly established African Platform for Animal Welfare (APAW). The APAW was established by the African Union to oversee implementation of its Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa (AWSA), a progressive strategy which outlines the need to “treat animals as sentient beings.” You can read more about our work on the AWSA and APAW here.

4. Participation in the International Coalition for Animal Welfare
WAN continues as an active member of the International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW), the coalition of organizations responsible for coordinating advocacy at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). In 2017, WAN propelled ICFAW’s proactive advocacy by encouraging ICFAW to prepare a position statement on animal welfare and antimicrobial use in farmed animals (which is being prepared by Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming) and created a backgrounder on fish welfare which has set the stage for ICFAW to encourage the OIE to expand the coverage of the Aquatic Code to include animal welfare standards for all life stages for fish in aquaculture (currently the standards only cover welfare in transport and slaughter of fish).

Animal Welfare Policy

1. Engaging the World Bank to improve the lives of farm animals
WAN’s continued its work with the World Bank in 2017. WAN was honored to be invited to speak on an animal welfare panel at the World Bank’s Global Agriculture Practice Forum early in the year (read our blog and watch our talk here). After the panel concluded, the head of the World Bank’s agriculture department, Dr. Juergen Voegele, accepted WAN’s challenge to host a stakeholder meeting on animal welfare in agricultural development, noting that “the way we produce and handle and manage and transport and kill our animals today is last century in most parts of the world, in my opinion. It is not what it needs to be this century.” We are now on a steering group with the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, World Organisation for Animal Health, and Wageningen University. The steering group is developing the structure for this work, which has now transformed into a series of workshops covering specific issues in animal welfare in agriculture development. The goal of the workshops is to produce best practice guidelines that will help steer the World Bank and the FAO towards more humane production systems as they support agricultural projects in the developing world.

In addition, we have now received a grant which will help us to influence the content of the first workshops in the series, sponsor attendance by key animal welfare science experts and assist in the distribution of the workshop outcomes. It has since been agreed that the first two workshops will cover pig welfare (in production, with separate workshops scheduled for slaughter and transport) and working animals.

2. Ensuring representation of animals in the sustainable development agenda
WAN was one of the first animal protection organizations to advocate for animals in the new Sustainable Development Agenda, which came into force in 2015. The Agenda has 17 key goals covering human rights and environmental protection, with numerous intersections with animal welfare issues. Early in 2017 WAN began engaging the Non-Governmental Organization Major Group (NGO MG) and the Women’s Major Group (WMG) during the development of its position statement, which is an official input into the High Level Political Forum, the review mechanism for the Agenda. Along with inputs from Thinking Animals United, we were successful in getting animals included in this statement. We also attended the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and assisted RAPAD Morocco in attending the Middle Eastern Regional Forum in Rabat, Morocco. In July, WAN attended the High Level Political Forum in New York, where we successfully influenced the inclusion of animals in three interventions made to member states and attendees by the NGO MG. Subsequent to this work, WAN produced a guidance document (which will be available in 2018) that will guide the newly formed Animal Issues Thematic Cluster in its advocacy in the Sustainable Development Agenda through 2018.

3. Addressing animal agriculture at the United Nations Environment Assembly
In December, WAN attended the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of this year’s UNEA was pollution, and WAN worked hard to bring attention to the issue of pollution in industrial animal agriculture and the need to reform food systems, preparing briefs, engaging the issue on social media, and most importantly, by working with other civil society organizations to provide comments on draft resolutions and to make interventions when possible. WAN made a particularly strong intervention during a session at the Science-Policy-Business forum, where we made the case for a shift away from animal agriculture towards more equitable, humane, and sustainable ways to feed the world.

Projects slated for completion in early 2018

  • Guidance document for engaging the Sustainable Development Agenda and High Level Political Forum
  • Guidance document for engaging the United Nations Environment Assembly
  • A resource on the International Policy Environment, available online with information on a huge number of inter-governmental organizations influencing policy related to animals (with key advocacy opportunities listed)
  • Outcome documents and teacher’s guide for the development of Humane Education programs
  • A Spanish translation of the Model Animal Welfare Act

It has been a busy and successful year, but we are already looking forward to 2018! Until then, we’d like to thank our generous team of volunteers and our supportive board for making it all possible. To stay updated on our work, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and if you’d like to support our work consider purchasing a Model Animal Welfare Act book or making a donation. Thank you for your support from all of us!

Jessica Bridgers

Jessica is the Executive Director at World Animal Net. Having received a B.S. in biology with minors in chemistry and anthropology from the University of New Mexico, she combines a scientific background with a passion for animal protection. She completed her M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University and internships with Humane Society International, Animal Protection of New Mexico, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society before arriving at World Animal Net. In her free time, she volunteers with horse and wildlife rescues. 


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