Experts highlight ‘urgent’ need to rethink human-animal relationship


Essex Mag (UK)

June 20, 2022


The RSPCA has published a collection of essays from global thought leaders to kick off a mission to reposition animal welfare from a niche to a more mainstream policy position.


The collection, What Have Animals Ever Done for Us?, sees 19 essayists explore a diverse array of topics – including animals in religion, the economic value of the natural world, what technology can teach us about our feelings towards animals, and how animals have shaped the legal system over the last 200 years.


Essays are penned by leading commentators – including journalist Henry Mance, environmentalist Tony Juniper CBE, author Melanie Challenger and Professor and former White House advisor Cass Sunstein. Renowned primatologist, Dr Jane Goodall, from the Jane Goodall Institute, has written the foreword; while charity and campaign leaders, such as Philip Lymbery from Compassion in World Farming and Robin Hewings, from the Campaign to End Loneliness, have also contributed.


Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy at the RSPCA, said: “The RSPCA is proud to have brought together such established, experienced thinkers to discuss the role of animals in society; with these essays clearly highlighting the importance of the world urgently reevaluating its relationship to animals.


“Worryingly, humankind is fast approaching a turning point of our own making concerning our fortunes as a species. Inequality is growing, climate change and the destruction of the natural environment are devastating concerns; while the relentless march of technology increasingly impacts our daily lives.


“But rethinking the role of animals in our society could have many of the answers.


“From combating social loneliness, to regenerating natural resources through new approaches to farming, and even the interconnectivity between improving animal and human health, more just treatment of animals is not only the morally right thing to do – it will also benefit, and maybe even save, humankind.


“We know these are uncomfortable questions. But humans have developed the capacity to determine not merely our own fate but that of millions of other individual species and trillions of individual animals trying to live alongside us. We hope this essay collection will help kick start a conversation humans need to have – for our sake, and for animals.”


It is hoped the collection will spark a debate around some of the seismic and groundbreaking changes proposed in the essays to sustain a future for humans and animals together; while emphasising the need for the UK and the wider world to take a fresh look at humankind’s relationship with animals


The collection was launched at a virtual debate event on June 9*; the first event in a series of activities by the 200-year-old charity to demonstrate the need to consider animals in all aspects of society.


Emma added: