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Building a Global Agenda of Action in support of responsible livestock sector development

Growing populations, income gains and urbanization have made livestock one of the fastest growing sub-sectors of agriculture. Growth in emerging economies has been particularly impressive and been associated with a widespread transformation of the livestock sector.


Recently, FAO was requested to implement broad consultations to explore the long-term sustainability of the livestock sector (COAG 2010). In addition, both the World Bank (2008) and the FAO (2009) have publically made the point that the livestock sector is not contributing optimally to society’s environmental, social, economic and health objectives, largely because the necessary policy changes, adjustments in the regulatory frameworks and supporting investments have not been made.


The development of a Global Agenda of Action responds to these critical concerns.


Responding to the challenge
A Global Agenda of Action for Responsible Livestock Sector Development will represent a broad stakeholder commitment to act towards improved sector performance targeting the public good domains of social protection and poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and public health protection, as they relate to the livestock sector. Actions needs differ from country to country and over time, but will cover the entire value chain (farm to fork). At this initial stage it is proposed that the Global Agenda will first build its Environmental Chapter and focus on the impacts of the livestock value chain on the provision of global public goods, with priority attention to the enhancement of efficiency of natural resource use.


The Global Agenda foresees three functions:

  • (a) Strategic analyses and collation of information and knowledge;
  • (b) Sharing of knowledge and practices through dialogue, dissemination and capacity building; and
  • (c) Application and piloting of principles and approaches.

These functions will be carried out by a platform constituted by key stakeholders including governments, private sector, civil society and international organizations, supported by independent panels of high-level specialists for autonomous analysis, and a secretariat for coordination, knowledge management and capacity building, which will interface with the appropriate intergovernmental processes, where necessary.


Developing the Global Agenda
The Animal Production and Health Division of the FAO has now obtained some funding from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation to organize a series of consultations and two global stakeholder meetings to formulate and agree a programme in support of the Global Agenda, to ensure firm buy-in and constructive participation of key countries and private sector and civil society stakeholders, and to seek funds for its global promotion.


The brainstorming meetings on themes, priorities and processes for the subsequent operational phase of the multi-stakeholder platform - tentatively scheduled to take place in Brazil in April or May 2011 and in China in September 2011-, will be further informed and shaped through a number of commissioned studies by independent experts and through individual consultations with key government, private sector, civil society, and international organization actors.