UFAW Strategy 2013-2023

UFAW aims to make best use of its resources to advance animal welfare* and, to this end, also to raise funds to support its work. Strategy is thoroughly reviewed periodically. The strategy outlined below was developed through meetings and discussions during 2012 and 2013 held to consider if the charity is doing all it can in these regards or if better ways could be identified.

The 2012-13 review considered the charity's history, constitution, role, activities, financial situation, and environment. Key points are outlined below.

*UFAW's view of animal welfare is that it is a concern about an animal's experience of the quality of its life – its 'pleasures and pains' - its subjective feelings (momentary or over a period). It applies, therefore, to sentient animals but it is recognised that ascribing sentience is a difficult judgment. Health status is usually very important to welfare because injuries and diseases cause pain and distress. For good welfare, UFAW encourages science that strives to determine animals' needs and how these needs can be met.

UFAW's role

UFAW puts a major part of its effort into capacity building for animal welfare: development and support of scientific and technical resources for animal welfare, including funding and promoting animal welfare science, providing opportunities for young animal welfare scientists, holding workshops and international symposiums, and publishing books and the international scientific journal Animal Welfare. Whilst it recommends action for improvements where appropriate (eg to tackle genetic welfare problems in companion animals, and for welfare improvements in laboratory animal housing and in rodent (pest) control methods), its activities are not at the lobbying, campaigning, end of the spectrum.

UFAW's approach is to seek to improve animal welfare through promoting science to determine needs such that welfare problems are tackled or avoided, and through education such that people are equipped to make decisions for the benefit of animals' welfare. UFAW seeks to influence, for the benefit of animal welfare, largely in these ways.

There are often difficult dilemmas in animal welfare (eg in deciding the better of two husbandry systems or techniques where each has welfare advantages and disadvantages), UFAW does not rush to judge in such cases but may make recommendations where it considers the balance of evidence supports them. In pursuit of its work for animal welfare, it recognises that animals are often used for human benefit (on farms, in science, as companions etc) and accepts that, in this, as in their use for other benefits (eg conservation of biodiversity) balances have to be struck.

All aspects of the welfare of all animals believed to be sentient, and with which we interact, are within UFAW's scope. In selecting topics on which to focus or support, various points are taken into account including the magnitude and importance of the problem, the extent to which it is being addressed already, feasibility of making real progress and cost. 

UFAW's activities

UFAW's support for animal welfare research of a strategic nature has led to major advances in some cases. For example, Russell and Burch's project in the 1950s led to the formulation of the Three Rs. These principles have come to be adopted very widely around the world. The charity also supports research aimed at tackling specific welfare problems (eg, recently through a UFAW Fellowship, to establish the thermal preferences of laboratory mice and how these can be met).

In providing funding, account is also taken of the quality and potential of applicants and of the circumstances in the country they are applying from, with a view to helping with long-term capacity building in science-based animal welfare around the world. 

UFAW's activities include:

  • Publishing the journal Animal Welfare which has an international editorial board, and is a major vehicle for animal welfare science (and related subjects) around the world;
  • Organising international symposiums', conferences and workshops on animal welfare science and related aspects;
  • Coordinating a network of university and college LINKs around the world;
  • Supporting undergraduate, PhD and post-doc animal welfare research internationally;
  • Editing manuscripts commissioned or submitted from around the world for the UFAW / Wiley Blackwell Scientific animal welfare book series.

In pursuing the above activities internationally, UFAW has come, increasingly, to undertake the roles of an international society for animal welfare science. It has been encouraged to, and aims to, further develop its efforts to build capacity in animal welfare science worldwide, eg through the following means (that were suggested and supported by participants at the UFAW international symposium in Barcelona in 2013):

  1. Providing further support for regional workshops/ meetings (and developing collaborations with relevant major veterinary / ethology meetings)
  2. Providing further research funding at the undergraduate, summer project, level. This can be an efficient way to support developments in animal welfare science (good for students, supervisors and their research)
  3. Providing further funding for travel scholarships to enable scientists (including students) to travel to centres of expertise in animal welfare science in other countries in order to learn approaches, methods and techniques to help them address the problems they face in their home countries 

Throughout its 88 years, almost all of UFAW's funding has been from public support: donations and legacies. Sustaining activities into the future and supporting further international developments requires continuing funding, and plans have been developed, as part of the strategy review, to try to ensure that UFAW's work is widely publicised so as to assist in attracting support for the charity.

In promoting the scientific approach to tackling problems, UFAW has played a key role in advancing animal welfare. It will continue to pursue this approach and to roll it out further, to help build capacity for animal welfare science internationally.