What challenges are we facing today to make the transition towards sustainable livestock production possible?
On current trends, it is clear is that we need to produce more food. As the global population continues to grow, more livestock products are needed, particularly in countries where people currently don’t even have enough to meet basic nutritional requirements.
Nearly 1 billion people are still undernourished. Livestock production is a pillar of livelihood, rural development and culture in numerous countries. Providing nutritious food sustainably and equitably will be a significant challenge, to which the livestock industries are well positioned to respond. Livestock can significantly contribute to delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
To be efficient, livestock production systems depend very much on where you are in the world. Thanks to this diversity we can maximise opportunities, but at the same time, we need to respond to the socio-economic questions and livelihood-related challenges that vary greatly from one country to another. This is also why it becomes very difficult today to have a balanced discussion on livestock. Too often we are looking for simple – or one-size-fits-all solutions to address very complex production systems. We need to engage the public in a two-way discussion to better explain [this complexity] and create a shared understanding.
How can we encourage international cooperation to improve the sustainability of livestock production and supply chains?
Livestock production systems have been on a continuous journey of improvement, and this culture of improving sustainability is needed in international cooperation. However, the needs are very different depending on the context (country, culture, level of economic development, etc.)
IMS has longstanding cooperation with several international initiatives to improve sustainability:
- United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) hosted the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock
- UN FAO hosted a Livestock Environment and Performance Assessment
- World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) cooperation to improve animal health and welfare, including the concept of One Health; that human, animal and plant health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist. Therefore, what is proposed is a collaborative, whole-of-society, whole-of-government approach to understanding, anticipating and addressing risks to global health. What are the IMS priorities this year and how can the industry support them? IMS is currently participating in a three-year cycle (2022–2024) of international cooperation on:
- Circular-bio economy. Livestock production upcycles agricultural products that cannot be consumed by humans, into valuable and nutritive food. Reusing and recycling waste and residues also contribute to agrifood systems that are more sustainable and efficient globally.
- Ecosystem services. Whenever food is produced there are ecosystem services that come with it. But as they are difficult to identify and price in the market, they are often not paid for. For instance, the beautiful landscape of a countryside with cultivated fields, and pastures on mountains and valleys, including the associated biodiversity, soil preservation, flood control, and so on are all ecosystem services for which farmers should be paid.