The ‘less and better’ approach has been advocated by many organisations to achieve a healthy and sustainable diet: we should eat less meat and dairy, and when we do eat it, we should choose ‘better’ products. Higher animal welfare standards are a vital part of the ‘better’ facet of this approach, and one of the best ways of choosing higher welfare products is to choose those certified by a higher welfare assurance scheme. Five such schemes operating in Europe, North America and Australasia came together in 2017 to form the “Global Federation of Higher Animal Welfare Assurance” (as it was named at the time), along with academics from the University of Bristol and the Royal Agricultural University (UK).
The alliance’s mission: to increase the proportion of animals farmed to higher-welfare standards.
In order to test whether various stakeholders would find this alliance of schemes beneficial, market research was carried out between August – September 2019, with the aid of a market research agency, OKO. A total of nine certification bodies (i.e. potential members of the alliance) and seven procurement/processor/retailer organisations (i.e. those who might be able to use potential services offered by the alliance) were interviewed.
The concept proposed in the market research interview:
A federation of animal welfare schemes with a common set of global standards. Schemes can become a member and implement these global standards and/or benchmark themselves against these standards. Member companies will be able to understand clearly how the standards of the schemes they belong to benchmark on a global basis.
Responses of stakeholders to the concept:
“Schemes see the most benefit of such a federation in sharing best practice and expertise, but had a significant concern about how standards can be compared internationally.”
“Potential end-users a key advantage in the federation enabling global consistency but with questions about local applicability and integration within the wider sustainability agenda.”
Based on this stakeholder input, the federation was launched on 4th October 2019 (World Animal Day) as the newly renamed Global Animal Welfare Assurance (GAWA), an alliance that can act in an advisory capacity as an experienced and trusted body of higher welfare schemes. The alliance aims to achieve its mission through the following activities and services:
- Developing globally unifying animal welfare standards taking into account the need for local applicability.
- Collaborating to share knowledge and best practice on how to set up and run a welfare assurance scheme.
- Offering consultancy to businesses to deliver on animal welfare pledges Delivering animal welfare expertise to organisations working on other sustainability issues, as part of a holistic approach to good farming practice.
Presented at The Livestock, Environment & People (LEAP) Conference 2019