Sustainable Animal Advocacy in China: 2007 Workshop

For the second year in a row, ACTAsia conducted a workshop in China to promote sustainable animal advocacy. The workshop was requested after we had given three successful workshops on the same theme in Chinese cities last year, which were attended by more than a hundred local animal protectionists.

The 32 selected participants who attended this year’s interactive training course in Shenzhen, from May 25-27, were key members of animal organisations in China. They came from different parts of China and represented 27 animal welfare groups.

Gaining knowledge and sharing experiences

Professor Zu gave an inspiring presentation on  his experience as a long time advocate for animals in China.
Carefully digesting information to be applied later at the group exercises.
Discussions were promoted between and during sessions

We believe that a sound basic knowledge is essential in order to develop professionalism. We discussed the animal protection movement as part of social change to explain how animals are used in society. This was followed by a session on the development of animal protection work globally and locally. The next step was an introduction to the basic principles of campaigning. Finally, we addressed the personal well-being of the animal protectionists as a vital part in the sustainability of the animal welfare movement.

We also provided the details of resources such as books and websites. Copies of the Chinese translation of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation were obtained for the participants.

An important goal of our workshop was to give animal protectionists the opportunity to learn from each other, to share experiences and to start building personal and professional networks. The workshop used the personal experiences of advocates (including the facilitators) as examples to promote understanding of the sessions. The participants undertook group exercises and worked together on the development of a campaign plan – based on a case study- which they could potentially use.

Positive changes

After the workshop, we carried out an assessment to learn how the participants had perceived the course. A few of the most important findings:

  • Attendees reported that participating in this workshop helped them to understand the challenges they face and to carry out their work more effectively. They no longer felt helpless in their aim to help animals. As one participant put it: “I now have more professional knowledge, and I will make myself more persuasive”.
  • Many attendees wanted to change their way of working by becoming more systematic, more strategic and more scientific, with a greater focus on long-term planning, campaigning and education. One participant stated: “If we can change people’s attitudes that would be the most effective way of improving animal welfare”.
  • As a result of the workshop, participants planned to create more of a balance between their work for animals and their personal lives. They planned to find a way to relieve the continuous stress they experience and try to get more support from their friends and family for their animal welfare work.
  • All participants valued their interactions with their animal welfare colleagues and intended to make more use of this new connection: “We should communicate and cooperate with others more, so we can help each other accomplish our goals”.

Future plans

We think that the positive changes in understanding, skills, knowledge and motivation of the participants are very encouraging. Further training is being planned, and support extended, based on the needs and interests expressed by the participants at the workshop.

ACTAsia would like to thank the attendees of the workshop for their participation and valuable input. A big thank you goes to Iso from Chinese Companion Animal Coalition (CCAC/CPETC) for her hard work in co-organising the workshop. We’re also very grateful to the major sponsor of this workshop, Care for the Wild International (CWI), and other sponsors such as the Shenzhen Telecom Company and Refuge de Thierney.