Year 2030: What is the future of animal surveillance in Scotland?

Boden LA, Auty H, Reeves A, Bessell P, Rydevik G, Mckay T and McKendrick IJ

In this report, we present a description of foresighting activities undertaken by EPIC, Scotland’s Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks, to investigate the future uncertainty of animal health surveillance in Scotland over the long-term (i.e. 2030). Using scenario planning methodologies, we explored five plausible long-term futures to identify opportunities and challenges for early diagnosis and detection of exotic, endemic and novel animal and zoonotic diseases. These scenarios highlighted critical drivers that influence the provision of animal health surveillance services including: international trade policy (i.e. globalist versus isolationist world views), data sharing philosophies (i.e. integrated versus segregated data sharing) and private versus public resourcing of surveillance capacity. Although not an original aim, the timing of the workshop meant that all of these futures also incorporated a vision of Scotland (and Scottish agriculture) in a post-Brexit world and considered the associated long-term policy and economic uncertainties this creates for the sustainability of different livestock sectors. Participants in the scenario planning exercises proposed creative strategies which might either address perceived gaps in future resilience or maximise opportunities to augment surveillance resilience in each different future. Using these participant-led proposals as a starting point, we evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of ten strategies (and their feasibility, effectiveness and relevance) to improve the resilience of the long-term future of animal health surveillance and contingency planning for animal and zoonotic disease outbreaks in Scotland. We conclude by proposing a set of five important criteria which in combination, may signal on which future path Scotland is travelling and inform decisions about which of the proposed strategies make the best investment for the long-term.

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