Why this Partnership
Livestock are a major contributor to food security and provide livelihoods to a large part of the world’s poor. The increase in demand for animal products, driven by growing populations and incomes is stronger than for most other food items. Global production of meat is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, and that of milk to increase from 580 to 1043 million tonnes. The bulk of the growth in meat and milk production will occur in developing countries, with China, India and Brazil already representing two thirds of current meat production.
But at the same time, the livestock sector places pressure on many ecosystems and contributes to global environmental impacts. Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production are important contributors to climate change. The widespread presence of livestock affects biodiversity and water quality in both developed and developing countries. The natural resource base within which production must be accommodated is finite, so the continuing expansion of the global livestock sector will, therefore, need be accompanied by substantial efficiency gains. This need is increasingly recognized among producers, civil society and governments and initiatives have been put in place to effectively improve the efficiency of natural resource use.
A number initiatives conducted at various scales and based on different approaches and methodologies are already underway to better understand the environmental performance of livestock food chains. The current approaches to environmental benchmarking in the livestock sector vary substantially and are often one-off evaluations. This variation, and the absence of agreed methodologies, impedes the possibilities for improvement and renders the task of addressing environmental and sustainability issues challenging. Monitoring the performance is a key feature in evaluating and ensuring compliance of production processes.
This Partnership is therefore intended to address this shortcoming by supporting the development of guidelines, metrics, methods and indicators geared not only towards measuring environmental performance but also allowing for constant and consistent improvements of practices in livestock supply chains.
Links to other Initiatives
The Partnership is complementary to many ongoing initiatives particularly the multi-stakeholder initiative, the Global Agenda of Action in support of Sustainable Livestock Sector Development. Though not formally linked, the two initiatives are complementary and mutually supportive of each other. Both initiatives have been established through a stakeholder dialogue process, call on voluntary participation drawing from a similar stakeholder community and seek to establish a long-term sustainable development of the livestock sector. The Partnership proposes the development of methodological frameworks to measure natural resource use efficiency which is core focus of the Global Agenda of action subsumed under focus area 1: closing the efficiency gap. Yet another closely related programme is the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) Programme which is a multidisciplinary programme that MICCA builds on FAO’s long-standing work carried out by its different technical departments and collaborates with international and national organizations. MICCA complements other FAO and United Nations efforts to address climate change and collaborates with the UN-REDD Programme and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).