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Sustainable livestock, sustainable lives: Livestock’s role in global health, equity and environment


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The following joint communiqué was released in Paris today, 26 May 2016, at a side media event at the General Assembly of the World Organisation for Animal Health.

An alliance of leading organizations in global livestock issues launches an advocacy brief today, aiming to bring the often overlooked sector to the forefront of solutions to global development challenges such as food security, health, economic growth and climate change.

The Livestock Global Alliance unites the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and World Bank Group (WB).

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Livestock account for over a quarter of the protein and 13% of the calories we consume. More than 1.3 billion people (approx. 18% of the global population) depend on livestock for their livelihood. The sector accounts for an average of 40% of agricultural GDP of developing nations, a percentage that is growing and already reaches 60% in some poor countries. Despite its enormous contribution to food security and economic growth, the sector remains underfunded, receiving less than 3% of official development assistance by OECD country members.

‘Livestock is so much more than meat, milk and eggs’, comments David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change.

Livestock generate incomes for small-scale farmers to send their children to school and access health care.

Livestock act as insurance against unexpected production losses and is the basis of resilience.

Livestock’s role in national economies and as a potent force for sustainable development must not be overlooked any longer.

Livestock will play a key role for meeting the Zero Hunger challenge.
—David Nabarro

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The Alliance highlights the huge potential that exists to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the livestock sector if greater investment and collaboration between actors is prioritized. For example, it is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from livestock supply chains in many regions could be reduced by 20–30% by implementing better livestock practices.

‘We have barely scratched the surface of what the livestock sector is capable of in terms of improving the livelihoods for small-scale producers and family farmers, and, more broadly, of becoming safer, fairer and more sustainable’, comments François Le Gall, Adviser at the World Bank, and Chair of the Livestock Global Alliance. ‘Improved grazing and feeding practices, for example, as well as using livestock waste for renewable energy and fertilizer, could help us meet sustainable development and climate goals. Working with many others, we’re uniting efforts to turn livestock’s potential into reality.’

There is a huge diversity of livestock production systems, enterprises and consumption patterns all over the world. To harness livestock for the greatest good for people and the planet, it is essential to grasp this diversity in livestock practices, which require tailored interventions to achieve lasting development outcomes. On the other hand, there are some interventions of universal value, from which all countries can benefit.

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Areas for action in the livestock sector will be highlighted at the Paris event; examples include:

  • For grazing systems: Improve access to markets and related infrastructure, access to services, advice and information and, in pastoral systems, improve herd mobility, foster community engagement in sustainable management of natural resources
  • For mixed crop-and-livestock smallholder systems: Improve access to services, advice and information; increase efficiency and sustainability of natural resources management; strengthen collective actions and gender equity
  • For industrial livestock systems: Provide regulatory and market-based instruments designed to further increase efficiency, reduce negative impacts and to drive innovation for safer and more humane production

In coming months, the Alliance will continue to work closely with other organizations on collaborative initiatives supporting each of its three pillars: health, equity, and environment.

For further information, visit the website of the Livestock Global Alliance, where this communiqué is posted, along with an advocacy brief, a short animated film and other research-based information materials.

2 thoughts on “Sustainable livestock, sustainable lives: Livestock’s role in global health, equity and environment

  1. This is a good piece. The importance of livestock cannot be over emphasised especially in rural poor african countries where livestock is used to purchase food in hunger periods, for protein needs and for income for households. S.Y. APIIGA-ANIMAL SCIENTIST-GHANA.

  2. Pastoralists, transhumance, fulani herdsmen, masai etc call them what name, they are the most hated, negleted, dehumanised, insulted, beaten and tortured in Africa because they are wise to trek with their livestock to greener pastures and water bodies where there is non of these in their home countries at that particular time. let us respect them and love them and their livestock… S.Y. APIIGA-ANIMAL SCIENTIST-GHANA.

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