Guadalajara, Mexico

4th OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare (Guadalajara)

The fourth OIE global conference on animal welfare took place in Mexico under the theme “animal welfare for a better world”. In her opening address, Monique Eloit, Director General of the OIE, pointed out that “the concept of animal welfare was long considered to be unscientific and based solely on cultural considerations that link humans to animals. This approach has now been refuted by the many studies clearly showing that the debates and subsequent regulations could be backed up by sound, science-based arguments”.

It is also crucial to maintain a frank and constructive dialogue between stakeholders to promote mutual understanding. It is not a matter of one side possessing the truth and the other being ignorant: the subject is far too complex to be reduced to a conflict between two opposing factions, Dr Eloit added.

The conference was attended by some 450 OIE Delegates, OIE animal welfare focal points and animal welfare professionals from around the world, amongst which representatives from veterinary authorities from Algeria, Cameroon, Congo (DRC), Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, as well as representatives of all four OIE offices on the continent and several African institutions, such as the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) and the AU Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) who presented a poster (9 Mb) on the promotion of the animal welfare agenda in Africa, on behalf of the African animal welfare task force of which the OIE is a member.

The programme was designed around several session themes and provided in depth insight into issues of e.g. new insights into animal welfare concepts, the cooperation between ISO and OIE on animal welfare management guidelines, the “one welfare” approach, national and regional animal welfare strategies, and new technologies used in animal welfare assessments and science, through working group sessions and plenary presentations, delivered by world renowned specialists, animal welfare professionals and representatives of national veterinary services.

Highlights of the conference were some of the key note addresses on the updating of animal welfare thinking, well beyond the achievement of the “5 freedoms” to include aspects of positive welfare aims or provisions and the concept of “Lives Worth Living” (Prof. David Mellor, Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, New Zealand), the new ISO standard ISO/TS 34700 on animal welfare for the food supply chain, based on the OIE Terrestrial Code, launched on December 1st, 2016 (Mrs. Sandrine Espeillac, Secretary ISO/TC34 Food products) and the “one welfare” approach, which promotes a more profound understanding of the interactions between animal welfare, human welfare and mental health, food safety, food security, environmental stewardship and disaster relief, amongst others (Prof. David Fraser, University of British Columbia, Canada).

Well–appreciated presentation as well by Dr. Emmanuel Sarr of the animal welfare charity The Brooke West Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal, who made a presentation on the new OIE standards on working equids and the challenges to its implementation in e.g. Senegal.

The presentations made at the conference are available here for download in pdf. The draft reommendations will be made available on the OIE website ( www.oie.int ) for written comments ([email protected]) until the 22 December 2016.

All pictures © P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2016, unless mentioned otherwise.

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