Year in Review: 2016

In the last year, we have not only established ourselves as political players in Switzerland, but also hosted an international conference, started to work in other countries, and have expanded our content. As we come to the end of the year, we are evaluating the comparative success of our different activities and discussing fundamental strategic questions, in order to achieve the greatest possible impact in 2017 for all sentient beings.

Looking Back at Our 2016 Goals

Political Campaigns

Switzerland: We plan three popular initiatives on the themes of fundamental rights for primates, effective poverty reduction and sustainable food.

This year we successfully submitted ballot initiatives on fundamental rights for primates in Basel and sustainable food in Lucerne. The fundamental rights initiative opened a debate on antispeciesism in various local media. We also supported our parent organization, the Effective Altruism Foundation, on their “one percent against global poverty” initiative by collecting signatures.

Germany: After the opening of our office in Germany, we aim to create a direct democratic initiative on sustainable food as well as a public campaign on cultured meat.

In October in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, we started a ballot initiative for vegan options in public canteens. The collection of signatures is currently ongoing. We unfortunately had to postpone our campaign seeking government support of research and development for cultured meat due to limited resources. We will probably begin this campaign in the first quarter of the new year.

Meta activism

Sentience Conference: We would like to organize the first conference for effective animal activism in Berlin.

In May we organized a two-day conference in Berlin, bringing together over 300 participants and 30 speakers to exchange ideas and pressing questions in effective activism for animals. The feedback was extremely positive: over 93% of respondents stated that they were either pleased or very pleased to have taken part in the conference.

Careers advice: Along with online materials on career choice for people who share our goals, we would also like to organize at least one workshop, to help activists to find a suitable career.

Our website now contains introductory material on career choice, but we unfortunately had to postpone a workshop which was planned for January of next year, since we had underestimated the work involved.

Research

Philosophy: In the course of the year six texts will be developed on our website, which systematically lay out our philosophical thinking.

Preliminary versions of these texts were prepared at the beginning of the year, and the updated versions now live on the site were published in the fall. We are working on German translations of the updated texts.

Policy papers: We plan to write at least three new policy papers within the year: fundamental rights for primates, cultured meat and invertebrate suffering.

All three policy papers were published in the first half of the year in German, and the fundamental rights and cultured meat papers were translated to English. We have not prioritized translating the invertebrate suffering paper.

Research agenda: By the end of the year we would like to create a comprehensive research agenda, which should serve as a guide for our future research. Building on this, we would like to gradually build up a network with external researchers.

In October we published our research agenda and the invitation to the research network on our website. Since then, over 200 researchers with suitable backgrounds have joined the network, which makes us optimistic about the future of this project.

Other activities

Lectures: We held lectures on our core themes at multiple events.

Events: We organized several events of various sizes.

Essay Prize: We announced an essay prize. By the closing date twelve essays had been submitted. The evaluation is ongoing.

Website: In the summer we made improvements to our website.

Mistakes

  • Because of unclear decision processes, the necessary preparations for the Berlin ballot initiative began later than we would have liked. After the problem was identified, decision making processes were changed and we launched the petition.
  • We did not communicate some developments and decisions proactively enough to our supporters. Namely, we failed to formally announce our internationalization plans and explain the reasons for our increasing internationalization. Transparency is important to us and to our supporters, so we have added a page on transparency to our website, and at the end of every year we will produce a Year in Review report. We also commit to making our decisions more clear as they happen going forward.
  • We opened the applications for some of our events too late, limiting the number of people who could attend.

We look forward to doing more for all sentient beings in 2017!


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