Harry is an animal welfare specialist, organisational coach, strategist, mentor, facilitator and passionate animal welfare activist.
Harry Eckman is an international animal welfare specialist with over 20 years’ experience. He is the Co-founder and Director of Change For Animals Foundation (CFAF) and a Consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Harry works with hundreds of locally based animal welfare and protection organisations around the world. His works includes organizational coaching and providing guidance on strategic thinking, planning and capacity development to animal welfare NGOs; directing humane dog and cat population management projects; campaigning to end the dog and cat meat trades; lobbying to end wildlife in captivity and the illegal wildlife trade; incorporating human behaviour change concepts into animal welfare and management programs, rabies eradication projects, and improving welfare standards in shelters and veterinary facilities.
Harry has worked the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA – now World Animal Protection), RSPCA, the Mayhew and Wood Green.
A chat with Harry
Tell us a little bit about you and your journey into behaviour change in relation to improving the lives of animals?
I have worked in animal welfare for over 20 years and even towards the beginning of my career at the Mayhew, I was aware of the importance of human attitudes and behaviours in relation to improving the welfare of animals. Working on community outreach projects, it was clear that the only way to truly and sustainably have a positive impact on the lives of animals was to work directly with people and communities. As my work evolved, so did my understanding of this critical relationship. Through my time managing Wood Green’s community-based animal hospital in North London, to working with companion animal projects and organisations around the world during my time at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). As a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) I helped create and develop their Humane Community Development program. The HCD program recognises that for a project to have real, long-term impact it needs to involve the community from the very beginning. Having the community central to the decision-making process and directly involved in the implementation of projects the affect them and their community. Empowering people and communities, giving them ownership of the animal welfare projects and work that directly affects them, is the only way to create real change in their attitudes and behaviours. This idea of building organisations, projects and communities is something that is central to all my work now, both as an independent consultant and as Co-founder and Director of Change For Animals Foundation.
Why does behaviour change matter?
People are the root cause of almost all animal welfare issues. It is impossible to truly address any animal welfare issues effectively without addressing and changing the attitudes and behaviours of the people who are impacting the welfare of those animals.
Most inspiring behaviour change intervention (animal welfare or other) and why?
For me the most inspiring moments are on an individual level. When you see people, members of a community, who have acted and behaved a certain way towards their animals for their entire lives, change that behaviour as a result of a moment of revelation, it is a wonderful thing. It’s like they see their animals for the first time. Seeing an owner who has always had his dog tied up on a chain, throw away that chain for good because he’s realised that there is a better way, is amazing. But then have that same person tell all his friends and neighbours what he’s done and why he’s done it, and have them start to do the same thing… well, that is how change really happens and it’s incredible to see.
What’s your vision for behaviour change for the next five years?
I would love to see an understanding human behaviour change be a fundamental part of every project and campaign undertaken by animal welfare organisations. If we can begin to shift the mindset away from symptom-based solution to addressing root causes and recognise that people, and their attitudes and behaviours, are central to making the changes we seek, then we’re well on our way to making a profound difference to the lives of countless animals.
How did you become involved with Human Behaviour Change for Animals?
I had worked with Suz and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and then together with another colleague, we co-founded Change For Animals Foundation. When Suz and Jo set up HBCA, I was thrilled to have yet another opportunity for us to work together and through HBCA, be able to focus even more directly on human behaviour change.
Why do you like working with HBCA?
They are a wonderful and inspiring team of people with an incredible wealth of knowledge that I am always learning from. It is fantastic to be working with people who all share the same vision and enthusiasm for human behaviour change and the difference it can make to the welfare of animals.
Top tip for organisations getting started with behaviour change?
Look around you, human behaviour change is everywhere. From marketing and advertising to projects and campaigns. In every sector and at every level there are examples and lessons to learn. If you’re interested in animal welfare don’t just look at animal welfare for examples of behaviour change, keep as broad a view as possible and get inspired.
- Strategic thinking and planning
- Organisational development
- Animal welfare
- Project and campaign management
- Designing behaviour change interventions
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