"The Big Picture", a piece or art designed by Ai Weiwei

Concept artist Ai Weiwei joins first International Animal Welfare Summit in Vienna

Theme of IAWS 2018: "Animal welfare: question of the future or luxury problem?"


China's most renowned contemporary artist Ai Weiwei will join the International Animal Welfare Summit (IAWS) on 24thApril 2018 in Vienna. International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is organising the event for the first time at the orangery of Schönbrunn Palace. Alongside Ai Weiwei, high-ranking experts from the fields of nutrition, agriculture and politics will speak. Controversial discussions are to be expected, given the thought-provoking theme of the summit: “Animal welfare – question of the future or luxury problem?”.

It is the aim of the International Animal Welfare Summit to raise awareness of the importance of animal welfare in a global context, to provide food for thought and to stimulate discussion. Concept artist Ai Weiwei wants to contribute to that: "We live in a world where respectful coexistence seems to become more and more problematic. This includes all living beings. It is meaningful to discuss how we need to shape the future in order to regain more mutual responsibility."

Heli Dungler, founder and president of FOUR PAWS who organised the summit, appreciates the participation of the exceptional Chinese artist. "The IAWS should be a conscious exchange of different, even controversial, perspectives to shed light on the importance of animal welfare in our society thoroughly and from all sides. We look forward to lively discussions and new insights with international participants from the fields of politics, economics, gastronomy and art. Everyone will make their valuable contribution to animal welfare."

Speakers and participants from all over the world

Following the opening by Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, who has assumed patronage for the IAWS, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis will launch the summit. The subsequent keynote on ‘A planet for all?’ will be delivered by well-known author, activist and scientist Raj Patel. His work focuses mainly on globalisation and food sovereignty. Concept artist and activist Ai Weiwei will take the stage at IAWS as a special guest. Currently, he holds the position of Einstein Visiting Professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. His first feature-length documentary Human Flow premiered in 2017 at the 74th Venice Film Festival.

Under the banner of nutrition and economics

The afternoon is dedicated to the themes of habitat, economics and nutrition. "Especially in terms of economy and nutrition, we want to raise the questions: Is animal welfare a real added value or just a passing trend? Is it a competitive advantage for companies, or do they see it as a risk rather than an opportunity?" says Heli Dungler. The future of nutrition and alternative nutritional concepts will be discussed as well as the tension between animal welfare, sustainability and ethics on the one hand and purely business goals on the other. Furthermore, the summit deliberately focuses on a very current consumer issue by having a discussion on quality labels.

A limited number of tickets for IAWS 2018 can still be purchased here: https://www.iaws2018.org

Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations


+43 (0) 664 885 33 270

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org

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