Livestock and livestock products are criticized for contributing to unhealthy diets, climate change and competition over grains. Mixed with concerns about animal welfare and a recent string of food safety scandals, it sometimes appears that the world would be better off without livestock.
The opposite is true. We need livestock, animals that we use for food and other products and as a component of mixed farming worldwide. By turning our attention away from livestock, we risk missing out on large development opportunities.
The vast diversity in livestock systems worldwide and the different demands and expectations placed on the sector have contributed to the difficulties for public policy in comprehensively addressing the sector. This diversity has also contributed to a poor understanding of how the sector, in a context of an increasing world population, growing scarcity of natural resources and accelerating climate change, can best contribute to the world’s need for sustainable food and agriculture.
The multiple social, environmental and health aspects of sector development need to be dealt with in a dynamic, integrated and inter-disciplinary manner. Given the size and complexity of the task, joining forces is a necessity.
Since 2010, the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, a partnership that unites the public and private sectors, producers, research and academic institutions, NGOs, social movements, and community-based organization, has made significant headway in finding common ground and in increasing global awareness on the development issues underlying sustainable livestock sector development.
The Agenda builds consensus on the path towards livestock sector sustainability and catalyses coherent and collective practice change by (i) building relevant, co-constructed and accessible evidence; (ii) engaging stakeholders in dialogue to build common understanding and joint action; (iii) developing innovative approaches and solutions; and (iv) formulating tools and levers to enable and incentivize changes in food and agricultural systems.
If you would like to find out more about the Agenda partnership and its 5th Multi-Stakeholder Platform meeting that was recently held in Cali, Colombia, visit our website: www.livestockdialogue.org, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding solutions for the sector to produce more, from less, in ways that benefit all, requires the integration of perspectives across scales and actors and focus on incentives and innovation for practice change. Sustainable development depends on it.