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    Henning Steinfeld
  • Chief, Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch
    FAO HQ, Room C-542
    Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
    Rome 00153, Italy.
    Tel: +39 06 570 54751
  • henning.steinfeld@fao.org


COAG endorsement for a Global Agenda of Action in Support of Sustainable Livestock Sector Development


The so-called ‘Global Agenda of Action in Support of Sustainable Livestock Sector Development’ (GAA), is built on the notion that demand growth for livestock products will likely continue for decades as incomes and human populations continue to grow.


Such demand growth will need to be accommodated within the context of a finite and sometimes dwindling natural resource base, and will be faced with the need to respond to climate change, both adapting and mitigating. For this to happen a GAA proposes a change of practices through policy and institutional change, research and development, capacity building and accompanying investments that will lead to efficiency gains in natural resource use and reduced emission intensity, while providing social, economic and health benefits. A GAA is open to all stakeholders who agree with its objectives, its focus areas and the types of action, including information sharing, the development of metrics, resource assessments, technology exchange, capacity building, policy analyses and development, and communication and outreach. Stakeholders agree that the comparative advantage of a GAA lies in the strengthened partnership, interaction, and consensus actions that prevent duplication of effort and that increase its influence on research and development agendas.


Stakeholder consultations were held between April and May 2012 to develop implementation programmes for the following three focus areas of the Agenda:

  1. Growing demand, combined with dwindling natural resources, are increasing market uncertainty and have put natural resources prices on a long-term upwards trend, and are also causing increasing price volatility. Although the technological frontier continues to expand towards attainable efficiency gains at the margins, the bulk of producers continue to apply practices that are often greatly inefficient. Closing the efficiency gap explores options for closing the efficiency the gap in commodity chains and production systems where the upgrading of technologies is both technically feasible and economically viable. Different types of partnerships are likely to play a central role in the transfer and adaptation of technology.
  2. Restoring value to grasslands addresses the missed opportunity represented by the widespread neglect of grazing land. Such neglect expresses itself in low productivity of land and livestock linked to high poverty rates and widespread degradation. Carbon finance and other forms of payment for environmental services, could be a key to raise productivity and enhance livelihoods as well as to provide environmental services at local to global scales. Institutional change, including REDD-type financing mechanisms, is seen as key in this focus area.
  3. The increasing obligation to reduce the environmental impact of production systems in numerous countries, makes the management of livestock manure increasingly critical. Towards zero discharge aims at recycling and recovering nutrients and energy contained in animal waste, particularly from intensive and confined livestock operation. Recycled nutrients help raise soil fertility and plant productivity and substitute for mineral fertilizer. Recovered energy reduces climate gas emissions and substitutes for fossil fuel. Central lines of action are spatial planning to create opportunities for the application of animal waste on crops, and public policies and the development of incentive structures.


A GAA is novel in three ways; (i) its theme is on natural resource use efficiency as an approximate expression of environmental sustainability (ii) it seeks to catalyze a change of practice at the level of decision-makers, through multiple pathways; and (iii) it harnesses the synergies brought about by multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.


The decision by COAG on a GAA’s multi-stakeholder process, and FAO’s central engagement indicates the Committee’s recognition that this multi-stakeholder initiative, can inform, guide and enrich FAO’s inter-governmental processes.


The next Multi-stakeholder platform meeting is planned from 18 to 20 September in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to that time preparatory works and consultations with stakeholders will continue through the FAO secretariat.
For further any information please visit the website: www.livestockdialogue.org, or send an email to Livestock-Dialogue@fao.org