African Animal Welfare Caucus Gather in Rwanda to Explore Global Crisis Solutions
With the charm of its numerous mountain ranges, the land of a thousand hills opened its doors to animal welfare in Kigali in September 25 to September 27, 2023. The 7th Africa Animal Welfare Conference - Action 2023 was hosted by the government of Rwanda, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), African Union InterAfrican Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), and Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW). The hosts welcomed the delegates to the conference exploring the theme, “Navigating the delicate balance of animal welfare, climate change, and development - concerted actions towards a healthy and sustainable development.”
The conference brought together 195 delegates physically and 546 virtually from 38 countries across the world. The conference drew dignitaries, government leaders, global leaders in animal welfare and environment conservation, intergovernmental agencies, veterinary and animal health practitioners, researchers, academia, community representatives, and environmental practitioners. .
Discussions echoed the urge to harness concerted multi-sectoral efforts to curb the adverse effects of climate change and rapid development including wildfires, floods, heavy rains, drought, food insecurity and animal welfare supporters. A common assertion was that development was deemed necessary, but sustainable measures to ensure the wellbeing of animals and the environment have to be ingrained and balanced.
Issues deliberated on during the three-day conference espoused Cage-free Campaigns, the Donkey Skin Trade, Animals in Disasters, Livestock Dependent Communities, Faith-based Perspectives, Civil Society Engagement with UNEP, the 6th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), Holistic Teaching in Animal Welfare Education, Better Training for Veterinarians, Elimination of Rabies, Reducing Meat Consumption, Alternative Protein Sources, Diet Change, Animal Nutrition, Dog Ownership in Gorilla Territory, Gorilla Health and Conservation, Factory Farming, Aquatic Animal Welfare, Response to Zoonotic Disease Africa’s Intervention in the Delicate Balance, Africa Platform for Animal Welfare, Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa, data management, and Pan African Donkey Conference.
It was emphasized that Africa was poised strategically to promote animal welfare in countries across the globe.
Following the grand success of the conference, gratitude is heartily given to the African Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Rwandan Government through the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), the Rwanda Council of Veterinary Doctors (RCVD), and the Rwanda Convention Bureau as the co-hosting partners. Special thanks to Animal People, Compassion in World Farming, Animal Welfare Institute, Plants-4-Hunger, World Animal Protection, The Society for The Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), Welttiershutz-stiftung (WTS), The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife- Giraffe Cntre (AFEW), and The Donkey Sanctuary for making the conference possible through their financial support. Finally, we appreciate all the delegates, represented media houses, Sainte Famille Hotel and all stakeholders that worked together to achieve this success.
Towards Developing Resolutions for the Conference
The outcome of the conference were recommendations that were drafted to capture the key deliberations throughout the three days. These key recommendations, upon adoption by key stakeholders will form resolutions for the 7th edition of the AAWC. They include:
- THAT the AAWC lobbies for mainstreaming animal welfare in the continent’s development agenda while incorporating ethical and spiritual aspects, to promote the transformation of the food systems in Africa and to avoid intensive agricultural systems.
- THAT the AAWC through the AUC champions for the adoption and implementation of better livestock production systems that cater for animal welfare.
- THAT the AAWC through the AUC champion endorsement of the ‘Dar es Salaam Declaration’, an outcome of the 2022 Pan-African Donkey Conference, by the African Union Committee of Heads of State to implement a ban on donkey slaughter for skins and other donkey derived products as well as ensure the inclusion of donkeys and donkey owners welfare issues in the Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa.
- THAT the AAWC champions and lobbies for the development and implementation of a Disaster Management Plan to cater for animals affected by catastrophic events in Africa.
- THAT the AAWC promotes inter-religious dialogue and an increase in the role of religion in animal welfare educational awareness programs.
- THAT the AAWC in partnership with UNEP continues promoting CSO engagement in Africa for enhanced human, animal and environmental wellbeing.
- THAT AAWC champions for the development of policies that promote the use of alternatives to animals in education, research and testing.
- THAT AAWC champions discussions on the transformation of Africa’s food system that encourage humane farming, high animal welfare standards, adoption of indigenous local foods and promotion of alternative proteins.
- THAT AAWC champions for the development of policies and legal frameworks to address dog population control, human-wildlife conflict and fish welfare.
- THAT the AAWC through the AUC promotes collaboration with governments, organizations and stakeholders to ensure the integration of animal welfare into policies, consciousness and practices.
An integral aspect agreed upon was that concerted effort from across the continent was critical and that implementation of the resolution should be put at the forefront as a way forward for the conference.
Africa values its animals and the innovative solution to leverage on their welfare as a measure to overcome the environmental crises was a key factor to consider in today’s global policy and socio-economic platform.