Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative (LEAD)
The Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative (LEAD) is a multi-donor project based at FAO headquarters in Rome. Launched in 2000, the Initiative’s purpose is to devise and promote ecologically sustainable livestock production strategies and practices while at the same time being concerned with reducing poverty.
LEAD focuses on four broad areas of livestock-environment interactions: the role of livestock in deforestation, the pollution of water and soil through the intensification and geographical concentration of livestock production in rapidly industrializing countries, land degradation and desertification through extensive livestock production systems, and the coexistence and competition of livestock with wildlife.
The development and pilot application of new concepts figure among LEAD’s main achievements. These concepts include balancing land and livestock to bring the absorption capacity of land for livestock waste in line with livestock density and production, as well as the implementation of payments for environmental services, rewarding land use improvements leading to increased carbon sequestration and wildlife protection. Within this second concept, LEAD has implemented pilot projects funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
LEAD has recently published an updated global review of the impact of livestock production on the environment, Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental Issues and Options, to raise awareness of policy-makers, development organizations and the broader public about the negative environmental impacts caused by livestock and to muster the political will to address these impacts and to tap the development and poverty alleviation potential that livestock still offers in many areas of the world.