The conference was organized by the Party for the Animals (PvdD) from the Netherlands and its international division, Animal Politics Foundation, in cooperation with the Sarajevo-based Association for the Animal Rights and Environment ‘EVA’.
The PvdD is a political party that sets focus of its activities on the entire planet and all of its inhabitants, and it is a part of a global and growing movement committed to the interest of animals, nature and the environment in politics and public administration. It is especially active through the Animal Politics Foundation, established in late 2012.
The conference brought together a number of participants, including animal rights activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire region, along with the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, and Australia, and it aimed to raise awareness about the need to preserve the planet through changing the habits and opting for more sustainable economies and ways of living.
PvdD’s representative in the Dutch Parliament Christine Teunissen delivered the main lecture of the conference entitled ‘One Single Planet’, at the opening ceremony in the Sarajevo City Hall. The lecture was open for public and it was attended by nearly 100 people, both conference participants but also other citizens interested to hear more about the topic. Teunissen elaborated on the need to make fundamental changes to people’s habits and the economic system in order to preserve the planet for the sake of securing the future of all of its inhabitants. She singled out specific examples of her political performance related to improvement of the situation and the position of animals and the environment in the Netherlands and globally, emphasizing the need to keep working on changes to legislation.
Addressing the attendees, co-founder of PvdD and Chair of the Animal Politics Foundation Elze Boshart said that it was necessary to step away from the mindset of irreversible facts. “We should stop pretending that the way in which our society is organized is a natural phenomenon instead of choice. Starting to care for animals, environment, and biodiversity leads to realizing that all of this is interconnected”, said Boshart.
In a comprehensive presentation of research on animal rights and future of the planet, Dirk-Jan Verdonk, Head of Programs of World Animal Protection (WAP) in the Netherlands, presented the correlation between the issues of agriculture, world food and water safety, climate changes, health risks, and biodiversity. “Human species are exceeding the planetary boundaries, as we use the world’s resources faster and faster than the earth can replenish”, Verdonk warned and suggested some alternative methods to prevent negative impact, some of the most effective being agro-ecology or veganism as a plant-based lifestyle.
A specific part of the conference was dedicated to issues surrounding the animal welfare policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the attention was drawn to inadequate legislation for protecting the animals’ well-being in various fields. Emphasis was set on the fact that in early 2018, the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to postpone until 2028 the implementation of previously adopted fur farming ban, and the campaign that the country’s animal welfare activists have been carrying out to make sure that the fur farming ban sees the light of day.
Participants of the conference also had a unique opportunity to attend a promotion of healthy and organic delicacies prepared by ‘Biona & Beyond’, the country’s only fully vegetarian and vegan food brand that keeps expanding its offer of products and availability across the country for more than a decade now.
The brand has marked success in its mission to provide easy access to affordable, flavorful and nutritious food items, using ecologically sustainable methods, at all major retail stores as well as through its online store.
Speaking about the brand during the conference, ‘Biona & Beyond’ CEO and co-founder Vladimir Grabovac specified that this company produces plant-based foods and meat substitutes. “As a truly vegan brand, I can say that we are making baby steps towards making a positive impact, through producing good and tasty food”, said Grabovac.
The event ended with a screening of ‘Dominion’ - an Australian feature-length film that explores the morality and validity of dominion over animal kingdom - at the arthouse cinema ‘Kriterion’, where attendees were greeted by the executive producer Tamasin Ramsay.