Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, demand for livestock-derived products in the CIS countries declined, while at the same time institutional and structural changes led to growing environmental problems.
Transition in the agricultural and livestock sectors also resulted in the disruption of markets, unfavourable input and output prices, and fragmentation and erosion of livestock capital.
With the move to market economies, the transition within the agricultural and livestock sectors of the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Caucasus countries and Mongolia also rendered livestock research and development institutions unable to effectively address the resulting lack of profitability and fragmentation of resources because they were designed to serve large farms in a centrally planned economy.
The lost links among research institutions after the break-up of the former Soviet Union resulted in the inability to access information.
It was also recognised that there was a need for increased awareness of the livestock and environment issues among a spectrum of policy-makers, planners and extension officers in CIS countries.
The platform was therefore designed to address the lack of pertinent information and decision support for solving these environment problems commonly faced by scientists and decision-makers.
The main objective of the Platform was to build up a network of knowledge and knowledge exchange to assist in capacity building, provide baseline information and resource intelligence; and increases awareness among key stakeholders in CIS countries of the complex interactions of human needs, animal production and the sustainability of the local natural resources.
The LEAD Russian Language Platform was a regional facility to increase awareness of livestock and environment interactions. This Russian platform was an integral but largely independent component of the LEAD Virtual Centre and concentrated on the following key livestock and environment hotspots in the region:
grazing and land degradation
pollution from industrial animal production
global environmental effects (loss of biodiversity and deforestation)
It facilitated networking, feedback and exchange of information in CIS countries and Mongolia on the complex interactions of human needs, animal production and the sustainability of natural resources.
To provide, through means of electronic communication, local regional and national communities and authorities with alternative technologies and policy requirements, with a specific focus on livestock-environment issues in CIS countries and Mongolia.
To provide policy-makers with the knowledge they need to promulgate policies that encourage the development and use of sustainable livestock systems.
To assist in capacity building, disseminate results and provide baseline information.
To facilitate the development of pilot projects among research and development institutions and individuals, and be involved in providing support to them.
Using information and communication technologies to reach its audience, the Platform provided thematic e-conferences, e-newsletters, workshops, publications, a digital library, decision support tools, directory of institutions, country profiles, baseline data and analysis of the livestock and environment interactions, maps, reports of pilot projects, links to existing networks in the region and promotion of experts via experts roster and consultations.