The 2018 Open Wing Alliance Global Summit to End Cages
This April, the Open Wing Alliance (OWA) hosted the second annual "Global Summit to End Cages" in Prague, Czech Republic. This special event happens once a year and is the only time when nearly all OWA groups get to be together in the same room. One hundred and fifteen activists representing 40 organisations, from 43 different countries, gathered together for four days of hands-on training, networking, and strategic planning around the coalition's goal of eliminating battery cages worldwide.
The Summit offers a unique experience for new organisations, founded or expanded in the past year, to learn from established organisations who have become experts in corporate campaigning. Though different campaigning tactics work in different countries, groups had the opportunity to connect with others from regions with similar laws, or levels of public awareness, about farm animal issues—learning what might work well in their own country. Inspiring speakers from countries like Taiwan, Finland, and Brazil shared their campaigning experiences and insights. Attendees also participated in useful workshops that included role-playing designed to replicate a meeting with company executives, region specific discussion groups, and brainstorming ways to improve the OWA.
Another exciting aspect of the Summit was OWA's launch of its biggest global campaign yet against Starbucks. The campaign urges the coffee giant to commit to a cage-free policy for its entire global supply chain, which would impact millions of animals. Most of the organisations participated together in a huge demonstration outside a nearby Starbucks. Over 100 activists lined the building, holding multi-lingual boycott signs and a banner with each organisations' logo. The campaign launch sent a strong message to Starbucks, who is certainly feeling the pressure to end its suppliers' cruel cages.
On the last day of the Summit, activists said a tearful goodbye to each other. Despite their sadness in having to leave such a supportive group of friends, they were even more energized to go back to their countries and continue their vital work. While the goal of eliminating all battery cages is an ambitious one, it is one that can be accomplished by the determined, inspiring activists who attended the conference. The encouragement and hope created by the Summit will serve to propel the OWA forward in its mission to free egg-laying hens from the suffering of cruel cage confinement.