Esther's Blog: Be a part of positive change!

13 juli 2022

As I wrote in my 2020 blog, we are living in tipping point times. Together we can ensure that they tilt in the right direction. Despite all the misery in the world, there are positive signs in 2022. The fact that more and more people worldwide are standing up for the most vulnerable, for instance - for nature, animals, and the climate. People who understand that the great crises of our time have been caused by the way in which humanity treats nature and animals. People who understand that we need fundamentally different political choices.

Child marches with the Party for the Animals.

That is why more and more people are joining our political movement. Twenty years ago, no one could imagine something like a political party for the animals. Now we are a fixture in the political landscape. Recent elections in Europe and Australia show the rising support of political parties for animal rights, nature and the environment. And our influence goes beyond growing voter numbers: other parties are also increasingly committed to protecting animals, nature, and the environment. Thanks to the influence of our sister party Animal Justice Party, for instance, the Australian government is finally putting an end to the cruel export of live sheep.

In recent weeks it was also announced that there will be three aldermen of the Party for the Animals in the Netherlands, a world first! We will participate in the daily management of at least three large municipalities and ensure a thoroughly green policy that puts the welfare of people and animals first. In one of the municipalities, we already saved 2500 trees that would otherwise have been cut down for a ring road. But whether in opposition or coalition: our role is and remains to get other parties moving, so that we can make a fundamental, positive change of course for a livable Earth together.

Local representatives and councilors of the Party for the Animals at the party’s last members' congress.

Help laboratory animals
We also see positive change in the fact that politics increasingly treats animals as the living beings with consciousness and feeling that they are, whose interests you cannot just shove aside. Last month, six Party for the Animals’ proposals were adopted in the Netherlands to accelerate the switch to animal-free research. Currently, animals are still greatly and unnecessarily suffering. Most animal experiments, however, cannot be translated to humans and do not lead to improvements for patients. It also costs a lot of research money; money that is much better spent on research without laboratory animals. Fortunately, this is finally changing!

But we still need to keep pushing in the right direction. More than 10 years ago, cosmetics testing on animals seemed to be banned in the European Union. Rightly so, because there are plenty of alternatives and there is no need to torture animals for products like sunscreen. Now, new animal experiments are at risk of being reintroduced. This is a horror scenario for millions of animals.

You can help the animals by signing the European Citizens' Initiative 'Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics'. If one million European citizens do this before the end of August, we can stop animal torture for cosmetics once and for all. More than 740,000 signatures have already been collected and now we must accelerate. So, sign the initiative and ask your network to do the same!

Positive change in agriculture

Esther in 2020 in a farmer's suit on a tractor, in protest against the trade agreement between the EU and Canada that would be disastrous for farmers, animals, nature, and the climate.

We also see positive changes happening in agriculture: our goal to have fewer animals in livestock farming, and to stimulate ecological agriculture is increasingly embraced by the Netherlands and the European Union. Much more needs to happen, but it's the beginning of the end for the awful cattle industry. Moreover, the United Nations climate panel, IPCC, has shown that we can achieve our climate goals much easier if we were to produce and consume less meat and dairy and switch to plant-based products. Which is also a way to solve the nitrogen crisis that threatens nature in the Netherlands and hinders housing development. Which means we can also effectively tackle the biodiversity crisis, deforestation, and water problems worldwide. And reduce the risk of hunger and conflict.

Farmers who are currently resisting necessary changes in the Netherlands have made the international news: they are blocking distribution centers with tractors, intimidating politicians and police officers and destroying nature. This is unacceptable behaviour, but the result of decades of being afraid of telling farmers the honest truth. The big political parties kept telling them that they could continue to increase in scale if they invested enough in technological sham solutions like air scrubbers and special stable floors. Even when numerous reports were published that clearly showed that those solutions did not work. The big political parties deliberately ignored these reports because they prioritised economic interests. Not only animals, nature and the environment have fallen victim to this, the farmers themselves as well. In the past 20 years, the Netherlands has lost half of its farmers, whilst the number of animals remained the same. Banks, the feed industry and stable builders profited greatly from this destructive system.

Now that everything has really come to a standstill, the government must help farmers earn a fair living. If we stop unfair fossil trade agreements like CETA, if we help farmers and invest in the transition to regional, ecological agriculture with less meat and dairy, then we can stop wasting money on technological sham solutions. Then we can create a healthy, clean, and animal-friendly food system for everyone.

The fierce farmer resistance, which is partly initiated and financed by companies with huge financial interests, also shows that we are living in tipping point times. Times that call for big and honest political choices. Only then can we keep our planet habitable and give both people and animals a dignified existence. Let's keep pushing in the right direction together.

Summer recess has started in the Netherlands, so my next blog will be out in September. See you then!

Esther Ouwehand
Party leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals