James Özden

Director of Philanthropy @ Mobius
4450 karmaJoined Oct 2020

Bio

Currently grantmaking in animal advocacy, at Mobius. I was previously doing social movement and protest-related research at Social Change Lab, an EA-aligned research organisation I've founded.

Previously, I completed the 2021 Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program. Before that, I was the Director & Strategy lead at Animal Rebellion + in the Strategy team at Extinction Rebellion UK, working on movement building for animal advocacy and climate change.

My blog (often EA related content)

Feel free to reach out on james.ozden [at] hotmail.com or see a bit more about me here

Comments
245

Obviously, I don't speak for OP or EA AWF fund but they literally only publish 1-3 sentences per grant so I'm not surprised at all if they don't mention it, even if it is a consideration for them. That said, I might just be projecting because this was partially the reason why I supported giving them a grant!

Agree though that stunners aren't literally a one-off and never touch again, but as you mention I think the overall cost of the intervention to animals helped is significantly better for shrimp stunning in my opinion, as well the avenue for industry adoption being much more clear and more likely.

Yeah good point re Shrimp Welfare Project! I should have said "most animal funders don't want to subsidise the animal ag industry without a clear mechanism for passing these costs over to the industry".

For example, in the case of SWP, my understanding is that SWP wants to get these relatively cheap stunners ($50k and only a one-off cost) for a few major producers to show both producers and retailers that it is a relatively cheap way to improve animal welfare with minimal/no impacts on productivity. Then, I believe the idea is to get retailers (e.g. like this) to commit only to sourcing from producers who stun their shrimps, thereby influencing more producers to buy these stunners out of their own pocket (and repeat until all shrimp are being stunned before slaughter).

I think the case with feed fortification with layer hens is much less obvious and less simple due to the impact of feed costs (which are significant and ongoing), so IMO it wasn't clear to animal funders how these costs would be passed onto the industry at a later date, rather than subsidising feed fortification in perpetuity. 

A smaller note is that there is also a very small number of animal funders who follow this suffering-reduction-focused theory of change so if one major funder (e.g. OP) doesn't fund you, this can be very problematic (as in the case of Healthier Hens). Also many funders don't act rationally, so it's also important the research takes that into account (not convinced that funders weren’t acting rationally in this case though).

FWIW in the early stages of Healthier Hens, I heard some of the following pieces of feedback which IMO seem significant enough that it may have been a bad decision for CE to recommend a feed fortification charity for layer hens:

  • Feed costs are approximately 50% of costs for farmers, so interventions that make feed even more expensive are likely to be hard to achieve
  • CE's report focuses on subsidising this feed for farmers to lessen the potential risk of the above point, but I think misses the crucial factor where most animal funders don't want to subsidise the animal agriculture industry without a clear mechanism for passing these costs over to industry, hence making fundraising quite hard (which did turn out to be true)
  • Following on, if the subsidisation avenue was not pursued, it's not clear what leverage Healthier Hens (or any other feed fortification charity) would have over feed mills or farms to get them to significantly increase their costs of production. For example, in the report, CE says "Entrepreneurs may pivot based on their own research: for example, they may instead partner with certifiers to encourage them to include feed standards for calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3 in their standards" but again, this is a significant ask of farms (and therefore certifiers) which I think was glossed over in the report.

It's also worth noting that the experts interviewed in this report were 1 free-range egg farmer, 1 animal nutritionist and 2 Indian animal advocates (as it was originally thought to work best in India). None of them mentioned the concerns above but the person I spoke to (involved in global corporate welfare) thought that if CE had spoken to someone with reasonable global campaigning / corporate welfare experience, these problems would have been unearthed. I'm not sure how true this is but thought it was relevant info to the above discussion.

(My overall view on the meta-comment by mildlyanonymous is that it's too vague to be useful and hard to verify many things but the intention of reducing poor allocation of talented co-founders and scarce funding is important, hence suggesting improvements to CE's research process does seem valuable)

Edited afterwards: I added "without a clear mechanism for passing these costs over to industry" to the second bullet point after Michael's good point below. 

Social Change Lab has two exciting opportunities for people passionate about social movements, animal advocacy and research to join our team!

Director (Maternity Cover)
We are looking for a strategic leader to join our team as interim Director. This role will be maternity cover for our current Director and will be a 12-month contract from July 2024. As Director, you would lead our small team in delivering cutting-edge research on the outcomes and strategies of the animal advocacy and climate movements and ensuring widespread communication of this work to key stakeholders.

Research and Communications Officer
We also have a potential opportunity for a Research and Communications Officer to join our team for 12 months. Please note this role is dependent on how hiring for our interim Director goes, as we will likely only hire one of these two roles.

Please see our Careers page for the full details of both roles and how to apply. If you have any questions about either role, please reach out to Mabli at mabli@socialchangelab.org

No I didn't sadly - I started using Readwise instead to capture learnings from books & other mediums, as it's got better UX than Anki in my opinion. Still yet to make a good list of concepts/facts though so ideas welcome!

Oopsie, thanks for the flag Toby! Will change

Note: Deadline is in 2 days - Wednesday, Feb 7th! 

CellAg UK is hiring for a Program Associate, working one day per week, to build our community-building efforts for alternative proteins in the UK. This Program Associate will play a significant role in shaping and running our programs, such as incubating university alternative protein societies, community-building amongst early-career researchers via organising events, getting alternative proteins into UK university curricula and more. You can see additional information about the role here. If you’re interested, please apply via this form.

  • Application deadline: 7th of February, 23:59 BST. Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis so early applications are encouraged.
  • Contract: 1 year, working one day per week (approx. 8 hours per week). Please note that this contract would be on a self-employed/freelance basis.
  • Location: Remote, UK-based
  • Salary: £40,000 pro-rata

Great to see more advocacy and advocacy evaluation-related content on the EA Forum! Sharing a few things that might be of interest to you / others

  • Founders Pledge has a great document on evaluating policy organisations that puts forward some interesting considerations on evaluating the counterfactual impact of an org e.g.
    • "We gather evidence from independent referees and written sources to confirm or disconfirm the charity’s own account of their impact. Below is a hierarchy of testimony evidence, ranked from the most to least desirable. 
      •  1. Well-informed people with incentives to downplay the role played by the organisation (e.g. a rival organisation)
      •  2. Well-informed people with no incentive to mislead about the role played by the organisation  (e.g. Government bureaucrats or politicians who were directly involved in the policy change"
      • 3. Well-informed people who have incentives to mislead about the role played by the organisation (e.g. An organisation’s campaign partners.)
      • 4. People with less information on the role played by the organisation" [I made small edits to make this shorter]
  • I also recommend Hear This Idea's podcast with Steven Teles, a political scientist who wrote a great book about advocacy within the conservative legal movement and an article about the difficulty of evaluating advocacy.

I want to make some Anki cards to learn/reinforce some important concepts, research findings & facts related to animal advocacy. Any recommendations for key facts, research outputs or concepts to include? E.g. things like how many animals are killed in China, components of the BCC, etc etc

You might be interested to ask in this Facebook group (I would love to help and thinking similar things but know approximately nothing)

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