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Animal futures project

In the run-up to the RSPCA's 200th anniversary in 2024, we've commissioned research on the future challenges and opportunities for animal wellbeing to 2050 and beyond. This page provides information on this project as it develops.

Two hundred years of advancing animal welfare

Since 1824, the RSPCA has worked to prevent cruelty, promote kindness towards, and reduce the suffering of animals. Our vision is of a caring world in which all animals are respected and treated with compassion.

The RSPCA's 200th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the organisation's founding - including the idea that improving animal wellbeing is part of a broader increase of social consciousness against cruelty, suffering, and exploitation.

Anticipating the future of animal welfare

We need a social and cultural shift toward a society that actively promotes positive animal wellbeing, including by understanding its connection to human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. So it's time to consider how a wide range of factors might shape animal wellbeing over the next few decades, and collectively how we need to respond.

For example, the ill-treatment of animals could be worsened by trends such as population growth, rapid urbanisation, habitat loss, and economic pressures. On the other hand, alternative proteins could reach a price point and quality where they replace low-welfare animal proteins at scale, and technological advances in drug development could help to end animal testing.

By making these connections, this research will promote the RSPCA's vision to wider audiences, and help to emphasise our roots as a social justice movement in the context of 21st-century trends and challenges.

Research team and approach

The RSPCA has appointed Firetail, an experienced strategic research consultancy, to lead this work. We exist in a rapidly changing and sometimes turbulent world. Our current thinking - as individuals, organisations, or at a societal level - may no longer be adequate. It is essential to look ahead and anticipate a range of future developments.

This project is based on approaches commonly called 'strategic foresight' and 'scenario planning', which have been used by many forward-thinking companies, charities, and governments around the world. While we cannot predict the future, we can assess the world today to develop a set of plausible alternative futures or scenarios, which can help us to make more informed long-term plans.

The purpose of these approaches is to help us cope with uncertainty. These scenarios will stretch our thinking about what could happen in the future. They should uncover possibilities, risks, and opportunities that we may otherwise fail to see.

The project will report during 2023.

This project will include:

  • Scanning for current and emerging trends
  • Interviewing and convening discussions with a broad range of experts and stakeholders, and
  • Developing a set of scenarios for the future of animal wellbeing.

Further work

This research is part of a broader programme of work marking the RSPCA's 200th anniversary, including a series of expert seminars with stakeholders to reflect on the themes and issues identified by this project, and a final paper setting out our own policy proposals and recommendations for the future.


You can contact the research team at:

For enquiries relating to the RSPCA's management of the project, please contact: