Interview with Ricardo Fajardo, World Animal Protection

Ricardo Fajardo is a trained solicitor and is Head of Global External Affairs at World Animal Protection. In this interview Ricardo discusses the Animal Protection Index project - a ranked index of animal welfare policy and legislation in 50 countries around the world, and its impact and successes to date.

1. Ricardo, can you tell us, in a nutshell, what the Animal Protection Index project is?

The Animal Protection Index (API) project has established a ranked index of animal welfare policy and legislation in 50 countries around the world and was launched in 2014 by World Animal Protection. Since its inception, the API has become a primary source of information for animal welfare professionals, both within and outside of World Animal Protection, and is now an internationally acknowledged barometer of legislative performance on animal protection. The API has helped to put animal welfare on the global agenda, elevating it to sit alongside existing global concerns.

2. How was it designed and developed?

We worked in partnership with major international welfare organisations and consulted with international experts in a number of fields on the structure. Likewise, we received comments and support from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) during this phase and then partnered with DLA Piper, the largest legal firm in the world to make sure we had the right resources to build our country profiles.

In developing the API, animal welfare policy and legislation was reviewed and assessed against specific indicators and standards, enabling the performance of individual countries to be ranked. Although the index does not measure implementation, it provides users with the existing legislation that would allow authorities to enforce legal mandates.

The API went live in November 2014 and covers 50 countries, which were selected from the largest global producers of animal products such as beef, poultry meat, milk and eggs. Its structure covers six animal categories and assesses the framework in which policy and legislation could be introduced or improved to change the life of millions of animals around the world.

3. Why do you think the API is so important for animal welfare?

This is the first index of its kind as there has been no uniform or consistent data on animal welfare legislation available to date. It therefore is a unique tool to measure and therefore improve performance on animal welfare legislation.

As such, the API is linked with other animal welfare initiatives and is meant to be further developed in collaboration with major international stakeholders on the subject matter, including the FAO and the OIE. Implementation of OIE International standards and the impact of strategies of both agencies to improve animal welfare are key components assessed in the index. 

4. What successes has the API achieved to date?

Throughout 2015, the API helped World Animal Protection to positively engage with governments worldwide. In Australia, for example, we used the API to convince the government to formally support a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. In Sweden, the government invited World Animal Protection to participate in a series of debates on animal welfare legislation. Furthermore, we were able to lobby the Swedish Ministry of Agriculture to maintain and strengthen existing legislation to protect animals. The Italian, Swiss and British governments have included references to the API and World Animal Protection in official websites and communications. The governments of New Zealand and Thailand are working with World Animal Protection on the recent animal-welfare legislation passed in both countries, which arose from conversations about the API. The government of Indonesia has set up an animal-welfare directorate following our API-focused lobbying efforts and ongoing conversations and advice. And finally, the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resource (AU-IBAR) used the API to justify the creation of the Continental Animal Welfare Platform, bringing awareness of our work to at least 27 further countries. Coverage of the API in Canada encouraged MPs to call for a review on animal-welfare legislation. World Animal Protection Canada is currently involved in reviewing a preliminary draft of a Bill to this effect.

The Animal Protection Index has also been presented at conferences in America, Europe, Africa and Asia, on topics including general animal-welfare, veterinary engagement, public health and philosophy. This has allowed World Animal Protection to present our range of campaigns and link with other initiatives, particularly on the use of our model legislation and our work with United Nations in the post-SDG environment. 

5. How can the API be used to engage with corporates?

The API has helped us to forge deeper links with corporate stakeholders, such as IKEA. Other corporates are also starting to pay attention to the index; for example, we are using the API model to analyse codes of practice for the dairy industry in a number of countries, aiming to use this information to influence existing partner Nestlé regarding the adoption of improved animal-welfare practices.

Visit the Animal Protection Index here


* Any views or opinions represented in this interview are personal and belong solely to the interviewee, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of World Animal Protection.