Last weekend it was time for our international Animal Politics Meeting. From 19 to 21 November 2015, the political parties for the animals from 15 countries came together in Tirana, the capital of Albania. The conference was organised by the Animal Politics Foundation, our foundation for international activities. During the weekend there was plenty of time to exchange views and in particular to learn from each other! The group consisted of people who are all part of the growing international movement that works for the interests of animals, nature and the environment in politics.
In addition to the Dutch Partij voor de Dieren, the German Tierschutzpartei, the Australian Animal Justice Party, and the Portuguese PAN are now also represented by parliamentarians. The conference was also attended by the parties for the animals from Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and there were people from political parties in formation from Finland and Israel. Animal protectors from Albania and Serbia attended the conference too.
Inspiration and the transfer and exchange of knowledge were the central topics at the meeting. For example, representatives from the Portuguese PAN spoke about their social media strategy. Because PAN was the largest political party in Portugal on Facebook during the national election campaign last October. During those elections, PAN’s André Silva managed to win a seat in the national parliament of Portugal. I am really proud of how well PAN is doing. And of course I am proud of our own party because we are, just like PAN, the largest Dutch political party on Facebook!
An Albanian local politician who is campaigning for stray dogs, together with a local animal protector, explained to us about how they deal with stray animals in their country. Although the Albanian law prohibits the killing of stray animals, the operation of this law still leaves much to be desired.
The political parties also spoke about their fight against cross-border animal abuse like international animal transports and the trade of kangaroo meat. Additionally, interesting lectures and workshops were given about how a political party for the animals can be set up. The Dutch Party for the Animals was the first party for the animals worldwide, and we are of course happy to help all those other parties for the animals to make a start.
During my first lecture I talked about the time we set up our own party. I talked about how we were the first political party that did not focus on the short-term interests of Western man, but that took every inhabitant on the planet into account. And how we were welcomed by some people but that others looked suspicious at us at the start, and how we managed to grow into an emancipation movement where people with different backgrounds feel at home.
Not eating meat is not so easy in Albania. On Friday evening we had dinner in a small restaurant where they only served vegetable meals. Very special for Albania (and often for other countries too). The owner told us that she tries to promote vegetable food in Albania by emphasising how healthy the food in her restaurant really is.
On Saturday evening we had dinner in an Indian restaurant where it turned out that the owner is friends with the owner of the restaurant of the night before. Both of them are working very hard to make Tirana a little bit more vegetable-friendly and thus more animal-friendly.
In short, it was a very inspiring and instructive conference. I am already looking forward to next year!