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UN endorses recommendations on sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition, including the role of livestock


The Policy Round Table of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), meeting in Rome on 17 Oct 2016, discussed the report on Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition: What Roles for Livestock? The report had been launched on 1 July in Rome and is now available in all of the UN languages.

Delia Grace, a scientist and program leader at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), served as a member of the High-Level Panel of Experts that produced the livestock report that was finalized this week at the Rome CFS meeting; other ILRI researchers made other substantive contributions.

The Plenary Session of the Committee endorsed a set of recommendations, drafted during preliminary negotiations led by Ambassador Yaya Olaniran (Nigeria).

Proposed draft recommendations
on sustainable agricultural development
for food security and nutrition,
including the role of livestock

1. The following recommendations have been elaborated building upon the main findings of the CFS High Level Panel of Expert’s report on ‘Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: What roles for livestock?’ The sustainable development of agriculture, including livestock, is essential for poverty reduction and the achievement of food security and nutrition. The recommendations aim to strengthen the contribution of the livestock sector1 to sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition (FSN) and contribute to the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, in the overall context of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognizing the essential role of smallholders in achieving food security and nutrition.

2. These recommendations draw upon the pathways towards sustainable livestock development identified by the HLPE report, which are based on the three principles of improving resource efficiency, strengthening resilience and improving social equity/responsibility outcomes.

3. The Recommendations are primarily addressed to governments for public policies, but are also addressed to all stakeholders with a role in achieving food security and nutrition. The recommendations are voluntary and non-binding. The recommendations aim to complement and not restate recommendations and related guidance previously provided in other CFS products.


4. The recommendations included under Sustainable Agricultural Development apply to all agricultural systems including livestock systems. The specific recommendations under Livestock Production Systems are addressing particular challenges for that sector.

Sustainable Agricultural Development

I. Foster policy coherence for food security and nutrition
a) Promote integration of food security and nutrition (FSN) into related policies to maximize the positive role that sustainable agricultural development and particularly livestock have in improving the economic, social and environmental sustainability of food systems, and strengthen coherence between sectoral policies and programs;

b) Build on guidance from relevant international and regional intergovernmental organizations and agreements, and take into account, as appropriate, the work of multistakeholder platforms and partnerships, which are dedicated to sustainable agricultural development and livestock specific issues;

c) Promote a fair and market-oriented world agricultural trading system in accordance with multilateral trade rules, in acknowledgment of the role of trade as an important element in support of sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition.

II. Address nutrition, food safety, working conditions and services
a) Encourage the appropriate intake of animal sourced foods, that is culturally acceptable, for healthy diets and improved nutrition, including through awareness-raising and education in the context of promoting sustainable agriculture and livestock production in accordance with SDG12;

b) Recognize the important role that animal sourced food, including dairy products, can play for children, pregnant and lactating women, and elderly people;

c) Develop capacity to meet national and international food safety and quality standards, frameworks, and schemes, ensuring that they are appropriate for different scales, contexts and modes of production and marketing, in particular CODEX Alimentarius standards;

d) Ensure that the working and living conditions of all workers at all stages of production, transformation and distribution comply with ILO conventions, and are protected by domestic laws, and provide adequate living wages;

e) Develop and implement policies and tools to facilitate farmers’ access to markets and credit to help improve their livelihoods;

f) Encourage responsible public and private investment, including foreign direct investment consistent with national regulations, and provide other forms of adequate financing, including official development assistance, that supports implementation of sustainable agricultural development, including livestock, particularly for smallholders, including those that are family farmers, and pastoralists;

g) Facilitate inclusive access to quality social services, safety nets, extension, and breeding and veterinary services, particularly for smallholders, including those that are family farmers, and pastoralists.

III. Foster gender equality and women’s empowerment
a) Respect, protect and fulfill the rights of women working in agriculture, including the livestock sector;

b) Promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, ensuring equal access to livestock productive resources, capacity building and education for women and foster women’s equal participation in decision-making.

IV. Foster empowerment of youth
a) Promote youth initiatives, including education, training, rural advisory services and inclusive finance, to develop their capacity and facilitate access to land and resources, in order to enable them to be drivers of improvement in sustainable agriculture development, and involved in all levels of food systems.

V. Protect the environment and promote sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
a) Promote sustainability and improvement of all systems of production, including organic approaches, agro-ecological approaches, and sustainable intensification, so as to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems, minimize environmental degradation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of product;

b) Promote integrated agricultural systems making better use of natural resources, halting deforestation, restoring degraded lands, improving soil quality, and fostering the sustainable management of water resources;

c) Strengthen the development, conservation, sustainable use and management of livestock genetic resources in line with the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, stressing the importance of the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS), and promote access and benefit-sharing for animal genetic resources for food and agriculture, in line with relevant internationally agreed treaties;

d) Recognize, respect and protect those traditional production systems, including pastoral systems and their mobility strategies, that use ecosystems sustainably and contribute significantly to the FSN of their communities and associated ways of life;

e) Identify options for improving efficiency throughout food systems, while minimizing negative environmental impacts and optimize the efficient use of energy, water, nitrogen and other natural resources;

f) Reduce food loss and waste including by supporting the improvement of infrastructure and cold chain development, through consumer education, the dissemination of best practices, information, capacity development, and the transfer of technology as mutually agreed, including for smallholders and pastoralists, considering the most appropriate local technologies.

VI. Enhance resilience against risks and variability
a) Strengthen the security of tenure rights in line with the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, including in all cases of conflict;

b) Facilitate the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change in agricultural systems in line with the Paris Agreement, and with particular support for smallholders and pastoralists, and women’s role in food systems;

c) Develop policies and tools, and improve capacity, to assess, mitigate, and manage risks, and reduce excessive price volatility, and their impacts on the most vulnerable;

d) Enhance access to livestock insurance for all systems, including index-based insurance;

e) Improve disease prevention, control, and surveillance, including through cross border cooperation on transboundary diseases, in order to foster early-warning and early action on disease control, spread and eradication, with emphasis on the Global Eradication Program for Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).

VII. Promote cooperation and collaboration in innovation, research and development, and address data needs`
a) Enhance North-South, South-South and Triangular and international cooperation particularly for capacity building, transfer of technology as mutually agreed, sharing of knowledge, and to leverage additional financial resources;

b) Promote global collaboration for collection and dissemination of relevant and disaggregated data, especially by sex;

c) Develop and foster innovation that addresses challenges in achieving sustainable agricultural development in livestock systems, including through collaborative and participatory research, transfer of knowledge and capacity building;

d) Support the protection and strengthening of traditional knowledge systems which promote sustainability and the use of experiential knowledge in research and development;

e) Promote access to and the use of digital technologies, including for precision agriculture, and foster their appropriate application for sustainable agricultural development.

Livestock Production Systems

All Systems
VIII. Improve animal health and welfare
a) Enable access to veterinary and extension services, vaccinations, medications, including antimicrobials, adapted to the specific livestock production systems;

b) Improve animal health management including biosafety and biosecurity, particularly focusing on infectious diseases, zoonoses, and reducing exposure to environmental hazards, by following OIE standards, and the One Health approach;

c) In accordance with the UN General Assembly Political Declaration on AMR (September/2016), the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR, FAO Resolution 4/2015, and OIE, CODEX Alimentarius and WHO guidelines and standards, in respect of the One Health approach and in the spirit of FAO, OIE, WHO collaboration, promote the prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in agriculture and prevent their unnecessary use, including the phasing out of use of antibiotics for animal growth promotion in the absence of risk analysis;

d) Improve animal welfare delivering on the five freedoms and related OIE standards and principles, including through capacity building programs, and supporting voluntary actions in the livestock sector to improve animal welfare;

e) Promote access to good quality feed, and facilitate training on sustainable feeding practices.

Specific Systems
IX. Recognize, protect, and support pastoral systems for livelihoods and sustainable resource management
a) Enhance the effectiveness, sustainability, and resilience of pastoral systems for food security and nutrition;

b) Enable pastoralists’ mobility, including transboundary passage as appropriate; securing access to land, water, markets and services, adaptive land management, and facilitate responsible governance of common resources, in accordance with national and international laws;

c) Enhance the role of pastoralist organizations and strengthen public policies and investments for the provision of services adapted to the needs and ways of life of pastoralists and their mobility, including promoting gender equality and addressing the specific needs and roles of women within pastoralist communities.

X. Promote and support sustainable grazing systems
a) Enhance the role of grazing systems in the provision of ecosystem services, including carbon storage, by improving the sustainable management of biodiversity, soil, and water;

b) Restore degraded land and reduce deforestation by promoting sustainable grazing management, such as agro-silvopastoral systems, aiming at improved soil quality, carbon storage, pasture productivity, and conservation and storage of forages.

XI. Promote and support mixed systems
a) Strengthen integration of livestock with crops, including by more integration of legumes in crop rotation and inter-cropping, and forests—agro-silvopastoral systems—at different scales, including on farm, across watersheds and ecosystems, and provide benefits in terms of addressing input and energy needs in a sustainable manner, including through the use of draught power and the use of manure as fertilizer;

b) Leverage the potential of livestock as a means for sustainable livelihoods for smallholders, through enabling collective organizations and actions, investing in infrastructure, facilitating access to markets, and implementing measures to manage risks and address challenges;

c) Promote manure management and the use of byproducts and reuse and recycling of waste, as appropriate, while protecting water and air quality, and improving soil health.

The full report is here: Proposed Draft Recommendations on Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition, Including the Role of Livestock, UN Committee on World Food Security, Oct 2016.

Read a related article on the ILRI News Blog: ILRI remarks to UN Committee on Food Security commending newly agreed livestock recommendations, 18 Oct 2016.

Follow the discussions the week of 17–21 Oct 2016 with the tag #CFS43.

2 thoughts on “UN endorses recommendations on sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition, including the role of livestock

  1. The following comment has been edited for the sake of brevity.

    Although my country, Lao PDR, is still one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, the country is undergoing rapid economic expansion, with road transport already spread to many rural areas, which favours the growth of the market system. Loa is endowed with rich natural resources and located within a fast-growing region. This combination of comparative advantages, along with policies enacted to exploit them, has yielded over the past 15 years an average real annual GDP of $12.33 billion and a growth rate officially estimated at close to 7% per year and inflation at just 1.3% (World Bank, 2015).

    Such development, along with the country’s rapidly urbanizing populations, are driving an increasing demand for food, including that for animal protein. The raising of indigenous chickens is important to the livelihoods, household incomes and food and nutritional security of Lao’s rural people. Raising ruminant animals are another important element in the rural Lao household economy. Cattle and water buffalo are kept for dairy and draught power, and these animals as well as goats and sheep serve as four-legged ‘saving banks’. The animals are kept in free-ranging, rain-fed farming systems based on rice cultivation and rely on natural feed resources as buying supplementary feed is beyond the resources of most poor rural households. The animals graze grasslands and paddy fields after the rice grain has been harvest. Shortages of livestock feed occur in both the country’s wet and dry seasons. In the wet season, cattle are grazed on a few wastelands not planted with rice. In the dry season, cattle are grazed on the paddy fields, but the feed quality of the rice straw is low. Animal disease outbreaks are a further challenge. Improved and sustainable crop as well as livestock production systems must start with the family.


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