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Opening risk gouvernance with a vigilance system: lessons learned from the Blue Tongue Virus outbreak in 2006

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This contribution results from a field research by a multidisciplinary group of veterinary and political scientists and gives an analyses of the transformations of an epidemiosurveillance governance system dedicated to animal diseases, when confronted to new emerging threats in the wake of global changes (Fallon et al., in Vertigo 12(3) 2012) . The research field refers to the emergence of bluetongue virus serotype 8 in 2006 in Belgium and it mobilises the results of a survey based on Delphi method involving relevant public servants and scientists, which showed that most of the means proposed by the authorities are based on the logic of known risk management. However we can identify attempts for renewal and organisational learning, especially with the proposal of a new vigilance system, which allows open discussion and reporting through the decision process. In terms of prevention and anticipation of the adverse event), these changes are intended to accommodate the surveillance system reactivity against uncertain and unforeseen events. We question the problems faced by this transformation and its potential for enriching and reconfiguring the conceptualisation of risk management which is currently dominant in the sector. Finally the article identifies two drivers for change in the governance network : by admitting the persistence of unavoidable cognitive uncertainty and by recognizing the importance for opening up arenas of expert knowledge.

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