Annual Report 2022

The past year was a huge milestone in the recent history of our association. With the Primate Initiative in Basel and the national referendum on factory farming, two proposals of historical impor­tance came to the ballot box. Thanks to the success of these political campaigns, we were able to further establish our association as an important player in the Swiss animal protection and broader animal advocacy movement.

The Primate Initiative was launched by Sentience in 2017 and called for the fundamental rights of non-human primates to be anchored into Basel’s constitution. These included the right to life and the right to physical and mental integrity. For the first time in the world, citizens were able to vote democratically on whether these non-human animals should be granted basic rights.

The Initiative marked a historic moment and resulted in over 300 media articles covering our work both domestically and internationally. The debate showed how timely and important our initiative was for the public discourse on animal sentience. Both the SP (Labour) and the Green Party decided to take up the YES slogan for our initiative. The demand for basic rights for primates also found its way into the Green Party’s legislative program. A few years ago, such an outcome would have been unimaginable.

On September 25, 2022 we reached the political climax of our Initiative to abolish factory farming. We consider this to be among the most important of milestones in our efforts to build a society which no longer causes unnecessary animal suffering. We launched the Initiative in 2014, when Sentience made its public appearance with the position paper “Sustainable Nutrition 2020”. The Initiative to abolish factory farming formed a central part of the Sentience vision. Industrial meat and dairy production represents a unique overlap for solving many problems for animals, humans and the environment. We started the voting campaign full of enthusiasm in spring 2022. Supported by a broad alliance of animal welfare, animal rights, agricultural and environmental organisations, we managed to shape the public discourse over the course of many months. Our initiative triggered global media coverage and dominated domestic headlines in Switzerland.

Our campaign created a dialogue that was long overdue. It demonstrated that the conditions in Swiss agriculture have been significantly downplayed for years. The alliance we have built over the course of the Initiative will form a good basis for future campaigns. In order to continue to pursue the core concerns of the initiative, we will launch the “Alliance against Factory Farming“ in 2023. It is intended to ensure long-term coordination and the flow of expertise between the organisations that have supported our initiative and to provide future political projects with the broadest possible support base.

In addition to the Initiative against factory farming, we launched two other projects in 2022. As part of the “Tierwohl NOW!” (“Animal Welfare NOW!”) campaign, Coop, Migros, Aldi and Lidl were asked in over 40,000 e-mails and letters to finally assume their responsibility for the urgently needed change in the food system. Meanwhile, our “RRRevolution!” campaign, which has been running since June 2022, calls for the 3R principle known from medical research (Refine, Reduce, Replace) to be extended to animals in agriculture. We hope that this will create a framework for our future work in the areas of agriculture and consumption.

Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, we were able to advance our existing projects in 2022 whilst professionalising our work in the fundraising domain. We could then secure the financing for our latest project, “Protein Lab”. It comprises a series of one-day workshops that encourage exchange and collaboration between subject matter experts from different sectors of the food industry. We are confident that this project will help find solutions to the diverse problems in the animal production sector.

It is with great pride that we look back on a year full of historic impact. Our work has forever changed the animal ethics discourse in Switzer­land and we have plans to grow that impact even further in the coming years.

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