Animal Ethics’s 2020 activities plan
Cross-posted from here.
Our main lines of work in 2020
Animal Ethics’s mission is to educate and influence the general public and society, in particular academics and animal advocates, to reject speciesism and show greater respect towards all sentient beings. We also research the ways nonhuman animals can be positively and negatively affected in significant ways by natural and anthropogenic harms. Because of the scale and neglectedness of wild animal suffering, we focus especially in this area.
During our initial years of activity, we concentrated on raising awareness about wild animals and speciesism among different audiences, especially in academia, in different parts of the world. We later shifted our efforts to also focus on promoting more academic work on wild animal welfare.
The accumulated work and experience of previous years has made it possible for us to expect that in 2020 our impact in these two areas will be much greater than ever before. We also expect to reach new places where work of this kind hasn’t been done before. Below are the main ways we will work in 2020 to achieve this.
1. Promote work in welfare biology
· Academic research on welfare biology funded by Animal Ethics
· Publish the results of several studies on how to best establish welfare biology
· Research on relevant issues in welfare biology
2. Capacity building and outreach in wild animal advocacy
· An online video course about wild animal suffering advocacy
· A book based on the contents of the course
· The audio versions and translations of our wild animal suffering materials
3. Expand our work internationally
· Start working in India
· Research on how to work in China
· Expand our work in Brazil and other countries in Latin America
· Increase our international work online
4. Carry out other educational work
· Update and improve our content about sentience and animal ethics
· Other outreach efforts
1. Promoting work in welfare biology
To continue our efforts to promote the establishment of welfare biology as a new field of research, we will publish the results of several university research projects that we’re funding and several studies we conducted about how to best get encourage other scientists to work in this field. We will also publish other research relevant to welfare biology.
1.1. Academic research on welfare biology funded by Animal Ethics
We will publish the results of the following studies:
· A research project on a framework to aid welfare-based decision-making for the benefit of stranded whales, currently being carried out by the Marine Research Group, based at Massey University, New Zealand
· A study of the situation of wild animals in forest fires and how to help, currently being carried out by a postdoc researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain
· A study of the causes of harm to wild animals in Canada, currently being carried out by another postdoc researcher at the University of Guelph, Canada
· A short study assessing the existing methods to help animals in floods by a master’s student at the University of Barcelona
These projects were chosen for several reasons. Not only do they provide information about circumstances that are important to the wellbeing of many wild animals; they also have the potential to inform policies that could help wild animals, and they assess topics that both scientists and the general public support and find interesting. For these reasons, they have been chosen especially because of their high potential to promote further academic work.
1.2. Publish the results of several studies on how to best establish welfare biology
This year we will also publish the results of three completed research projects on how to promote work on welfare biology in academia. They are the following:
· A general study about how to establish a new field of research in academia, especially within natural sciences
· A qualitative study, using interviews, of the attitudes of scientists towards different ways of helping animals in the wild and on opportunities and barriers for research on wild animal welfare
· A quantitative study, using a survey, of the attitudes of scientists and students towards the same topics
These studies will help guide those who want to promote academic work in this field.
1.3. Research on relevant issues in welfare biology
We will also publish the results of these studies:
· A study of the causes of harm to wild animals in Greece. This work, which will complement the study we’re funding in Canada, will help to provide a more general understanding of the common causes of wild animal suffering.
· Work on population control for herbivores that can be practically applied now. This work could inform policies in wildlife management in particular cases that can help animals in the very near future.
· Further research on urban welfare biology. Work on improving the wellbeing of wild animals living in urban environments while solving potential conflicts with humans is among the most promising ones in this field, because it has high levels of support and can be done more easily than work in the wild. In addition to contributing to helping urban animals, much of what is learned will apply to wild animals living in other areas. We have already done some introductory work on this topic. We will now do more work assessing particular cases of some animals common in urban areas.
· Work on the legal situation of animals, with a focus on those living in the wild. This work will help us understand the legal basis from which policies improving the wellbeing of animals can currently be pursued, and especially what legal impediments currently exist.
We will also be in contact with people from other organizations to collaborate where possible on the different initiatives to promote welfare biology.
2. Capacity building and outreach in wild animal advocacy
There are still many animal advocates who are not aware that wild animal suffering is such an important issue. However, there’s an increasing number of others, including those in animal organizations, who are concerned about this problem but don’t have much idea how work to help wild animals can be done. Others even think this is an intractable cause. As a result, only a few people and organizations have been involved in working for these animals. The increase in recent years in the number of people concerned about wild animal suffering has not been reflected in a proportional rise in the number of people working in this area. We think that growth is being impeded by a lack of information by potential supporters about how to carry out wild animal suffering advocacy.
To help to solve this, in 2019 we improved and expanded our online materials about wild animal suffering, helping wild animals, and welfare biology, including new content about what the lives of animals in the wild are like and what can be done to improve them. In 2020, we will go beyond this, by providing more accessible tools and by providing more specific ideas and guidelines about how to work in this area. We will do this by publishing the resources listed below.
2.1. An online video course about wild animal suffering advocacy
This course will be available for free. It will include in total 28 short videos grouped into three modules, about (1) wild animal suffering and what can be done about it, (2) the arguments about the moral consideration of animals, and (3) what we know thus far about how to best promote welfare biology.
2.2. A book based on the contents of the course
This book, which will be over 200 pages long, will be available as an ebook to be downloaded for free. It will include the information from this course in the form of a guide to wild animal advocacy.
2.3. The audio versions and translations of our wild animal suffering materials
We will also publish the audio versions of all the wild animal suffering contents of our website (over 20 articles). In addition, we will publish the partial or complete translations of our wild animal suffering articles into other languages, including at least French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
These materials will help to make it possible for the number of people working on this topic to expand significantly, proportionate to the number of animal advocates concerned about it. In this way, we aim to leverage our investment in this area of work. In addition, these materials will help to raise awareness among other people about the importance of the situation of wild animals.
3. Expand our work internationally
One of the main goals of Animal Ethics has been to expand concern about animals, especially wild ones, worldwide, to the extent that we are able to, working in many different languages and carrying out activities in different countries. In 2020, we will continue to give talks and do other activities in countries where we have been active, especially the USA and Europe, where we’ll try to organize activities in new places. In addition to this, we plan to expand more internationally. We will do this in four ways: working in India, publishing the results of a study about how to carry out animal advocacy work in China, further developing our work in Brazil and other countries in Latin America, and increasing our international work online
3.1. Start working in India
With a population over 1.4 billion people, India is the country with the second largest population, and it is expected to have the largest population in several years. Its population is still mostly young, with the average age under 30. In addition, it is currently moving towards becoming the world’s fifth largest economy.
Moreover, India has significant potential in terms of the growth of animal advocacy, because of its long tradition of respect for nonhuman animals in certain regions, ingrained in many of its cultural traits.
In 2017 and 2018, we carried out tours of talks in several countries, reaching mainly university students, including the USA, Mexico, Brazil, and Spain, giving in total close to 50 talks. In 2020, we will also start our work in India with a series of talks at universities, with a focus on speciesism and wild animal suffering. We will also distribute educational materials about these issues at Indian universities, and will make some of our educational texts available in Hindi. In addition, we’ll network and collaborate with other local Indian animal organizations.
3.2. Research on how to work in China
China is an extremely important country for animal advocacy for several reasons, including its huge population (the world’s largest at the moment), its being the world’s second largest economy, and the future influence China will likely have on the rest of the world.
Back in 2018, we were optimistic concerning our chances of working in China. At that point, we had already launched the version of our website in Chinese and had our educational materials ready. But, instead of trying to start to work there immediately, we decided to first research how to best do so.
We have learned since then that the special circumstances existing in China make it much more difficult than it may seem to be successful in working there. This is not only because of the cultural conventions, but also, especially, because of the very serious governmental conditions and restrictions on doing so. Making a mistake in this regard can mean not just that an organization may be banned from working in China, but also that it can jeopardize the work of other organizations and activists. Due to this, we have paused projects there until we know we can do so appropriately. In 2020, we will publish the results of the research we have done about this, which includes interviews with experts and a literature review.
3.3. Expand our work in Brazil and other countries in Latin America
We plan to publish a large amount of material in Portuguese (including the wild animal advocacy capacity building course and book). We will also increase our academic activities in universities in Brazil. In previous years, we have taught officially recognized seminars and a short course at the Federal University of Espirito Santo and the Federal University of Santa Catarina. We plan to continue and to expand these initiatives.
In addition, our representatives will carry out seminars and talks outside Brazil in Latin America. We have done so in previous years in different countries. In 2020, we plan to do it in Argentina and Uruguay.
3.4. Increase our international work online
Our website is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Chinese, French, Polish, and Italian. We will continue our translation efforts because we currently see a lack of attention to making this kind of information available in different languages. We are not aware of other animal organizations that have extensive content available in all these languages. However, most people, including of course animal advocates, don’t speak English.
In 2020, we expect to publish much more material in new languages, especially in Russian and Hindi. This work is in most cases done by volunteers, which means that progress is dependent mostly on the availability of pro bono translators and editors. Due to this, the publication of a new translation of our website is usually a long term project.
4. Carry out other educational work
Despite our focus on wild animal suffering, we are a general animal organization, and do work in other areas of concern. This year we plan to carry out the following work complementing what is mentioned above.
4.1. Update and improve our content about sentience and animal ethics
We plan to update and expand our website sections about sentience and about ethics and animals, some of which are among the most visited pages on our website. We have seen that while there are some other sources of information about these issues, they tend to be either imprecise or not very in depth, or else too advanced for people who just want an introduction to the issues. Our materials are intended to cover the space in between, by providing clear and substantial introductions to these issues. We will translate the updated texts to other languages in addition to English.
We will also create audio versions of them. Plus, the part about animals and ethics will be complemented with the online video course about wild animal suffering, which includes a whole module related this topic.
4.2. Other outreach efforts
Even though our focus in 2020 will be to work on the topics mentioned above, we will also occasionally publish work on other topics related to speciesism. Right now we have about 1,300 publications in total in our website (including all languages). In 2020, we plan to reach 1,400 publications.
In social media, we will continue our policy of combining our intention to reach a broad audience with our valuing the quality of our publications over the quantity of them, and of sending traffic to our website. We will make an effort to use social media to spread our capacity building materials about wild animal suffering. Also, a portion of our publications in English will be targeting our followers in India.
Finally, we will continue to help local and grassroots animal advocates to carry out their work by providing them with educational materials they can use freely in their own work. These materials are available in seven different languages. We can provide them easily and at a small cost of resources, saving these activists a lot of effort that would otherwise reduce their capacity to work. In this way, we increase the aggregate cost-effectiveness of the animal advocacy community as a whole, and we also spread and encourage the inclusion of concern for wild animal suffering and a critique of speciesism.