Social License to Operate

February 20 2023 | Conference, General

The keynote speech at the FEIF Conference was held by Prof. Dr. med. Vet. Michael Weishaupt and it continued to be the main topic of the FEIF Conference 2023 in all department meetings.

What is Social Licence to Operate (SLO)?
And which questions should we ask ourselves – as it concerns us most – in the Icelandic horse community?

Social Licence to Operate is a term used initially in relation to the mining industry. In the meantime, its principles apply also to the animal use industry and getting more attention in the equestrian world, especially in 2022 when the FEI set up a working group on this topic. At is simplest, it refers to the acceptance of practices and activities of an industry or organisation by society. So, where to start with this very complex topic?

There are a whole lot of questions which we should ask – some of them with the help of scientist and studies already done or soon be available. These include:

  • What are practices in Icelandic horse sports that are in question?
  • Animals in entertainment (that is how our sport is often seen in public): how (long) will that be accepted in the future?
  • How do we define ethics in horse sports? And how do not-horse-related people define it?
  • To what degree is horse riding accepted as in past-time? Is it barely tolerated?
  • Which topics are in focus inside the (Icelandic) horse community? (horse-rider weight relation)
  • Which topics are in the focus of the public?

And of course the final question: Should we – the Icelandic horse world – be active and regulate ourselves? Or should we be regulated?

All FEIF departments – from youth to chairpersons – had detailed discussion, and considered the central questions towards a new strategy.

Photos: private/Anna Guðmundsdóttir, photo competition 2022