60 Livestock As A Key Driver For Sustainable Agricultural Development

How Can Livestock Practices Foster Sustainable Development In Agriculture Towards The Implementation Of 2030 Agenda

Organizers: The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA); World Farmer's Organization (WFO); World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)


The side event, jointly organized by WFO, GRA and OIE, aims at discussing the key roles that livestock could play in fostering sustainable development. Sustainable agricultural development faces environmental, economic, social and health challenges which could be addressed by the livestock sector because it has an important role in reducing stresses on natural resources, as well as, GHG emissions and adapting to climate change. Livestock is also a key source of protein to feed a growing world population, contributing to ensure food security and nutrition for all. This would be instrumental also to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular those related to end poverty and hunger (SDG1, 2) health (SDG3, 6), society (SDG4, 5), economic growth (SDG 8); responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), and environment (SDG 13, 14, 15). Time will be allocated for interaction with the audience, creating a space of debate about different stakeholders on the relevance of livestock to agricultural, economic and human development.

Key speakers

H.E. Ambassador Patrick Rata, New Zealand

Dr Monique Eloit, OIE DG

Dr Romano Marabelli, Secretary General, Minister of Health, Italy

Dr Marco Marzano de Marinis, Secretary General, WFO

Ms Alice Willett, GRA

Mr Koen Mintiens, WFO

Dr Victoria Hatton, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre

Main themes/issues discussed

The side event was aimed at discussing the many contributions that livestock could provide to achieve sustainable agricultural development.

Livestock represents the main source of protein for a growing world population. The current world population of 7.5 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, and 10 billion in 2050. An increasing population creates increasing prosperity which at its turn leads to an increasing demand for animal proteins. 

Livestock plays a key role in reducing climate change negative impacts, contributing to  the reduction of the greenhouse gases emissions. The GRA livestock research group, therefore, focuses its works on reducing emissions intensity of livestock production systems and increasing the quantity of carbon stored in soils supporting those systems.

Livestock is also instrumental to achieve many Sustainable Development Goals, in particular those related to ending poverty and hunger (SDG1, 2), health (SDG3, 6), society (SDG4, 5), economic growth (SDG 8), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), and environment (SDG 13, 14, 15).

In this regard, the latest news is marked by an international consensus for the global eradication of a devastating animal disease, the Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), by 2030. This disease threatens livelihoods and stability of over 300 million rural families in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and causes annual global losses estimated at between US$ 1.4 billion to US$ 2.1 billion. The PPR Global eradication programme, prepared this year by FAO and OIE, will associate epidemiology, surveillance, vaccination and strengthening of Veterinary services. It will be designed and implemented in close relation with farmers, the first to be informed of the occurrence of a disease outbreak, and the first beneficiaries of its eradication

All livestock farmers from all over the world must be able to financially support their families by achieving an acceptable income. They should be entrepreneurs, engaged in livestock production as an attractive business.

Summary of key points

Widely known for the food, nutrition and draft power they provide, farm animals underpin human progress in a multitude of ways all over the globe, also serving as cultural assets. More than 18 percent of the world’s population is engaged in animal husbandry or in the processing and marketing of animal based food. 

A sustainable livestock farming must address global food security, rural development, animal health and welfare, public health and environment issues.

Agriculture, including the livestock sector is necessary to meet food security challenges. Agriculture also represents a solution to achieving the 2° C reduction in greenhouse gases emissions targeted in the Paris Agreement; livestock- oriented solutions need to consider the whole farming system, and be fit for the purpose, economically viable, with limited barriers to adoption. 

It is central to optimize the performance of Veterinary Services when managing disease threats and it is also important to prioritize the allocation of resources to improve animal health and welfare effectively.

Key outcomes/take away messages

In line with the strategic vision of “One Health” animal health and human health constitute a single concept, which further strengthens the Human-Animal Relationship on a fundamental point. In this regard, strengthening of Veterinary services is key.

Increasingly research is demonstrating that there are strong potential synergies between increased productivity of the livestock systems, the resilience of those systems to climate change, and improved environmental outcomes, including reduction in the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions.   

Agricultural development should provide a future to the farmers, ensuring an acceptable income, making farming more attractive especially for youth and women. 

Partnership is essential to obtain concrete and positive results towards a more sustainable world. OIE, GRA and WFO are proud to represent a positive example of the advantages which can derive from joining forces to tackle the global challenges of food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation.