LEAP at COP25: Enhancing ambition in NDCs through low-carbon livestock


The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25, held in Madrid from 2 to 13 December 2019, ended with a call for action from the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on business and civil society leaders to press governments into articulating policies that support private sector efforts to effectively address climate change.

Action is needed from governments to design and increase the ambition of their Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) and from the private sector to take up the challenge and work towards sustainable development. Both are necessary and possible.

The Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance Partnership (FAO LEAP) acts as the catalyst for global and coordinated climate action and as the accelerator for sustainable development within the livestock sector. This was acknowledged during the FAO LEAP official side that took place on Thursday, 12 December, at IFEMA - Feria de Madrid, under the theme Approaches for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Low-carbon livestock to address climate change and food security.

Co-organized with the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) and the International Dairy Federation (IDF), the meeting was a platform to exchange views with governments and other parties to enhance NDCs for improved national inventories and evidence-based action for food security and low-carbon livestock.

“LEAP is a pioneering and successful example of a multi-stakeholder partnership boosting action on climate and the broader environment”, said during his opening remarks Alex Jones, Director, Climate Change Division (FAO). He underscored the contribution of LEAP to the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), and hence the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He also encouraged participants to take action to improve the environmental sustainability of the livestock sector through the application and uptake of FAO LEAP guidelines. 

The role of LEAP to tackle climate change was highlighted by Caroline Emond, IDF Director General, and LEAP Chairperson 2019, giving an overview of the Partnership and reporting the latest activities and achievements.

The meeting saw the participation of the government of Costa Rica, represented by Mauricio Chacón Navarro, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, who illustrated the PreCOP, the preparatory meeting for the COP25, held during the second week of October 2019 in San José, Costa Rica. The presentation was an opportunity to advocate for more ambition and stronger climate targets in the context of the Paris Agreement.

Then, the meeting followed with a facilitated panel discussion on how FAO LEAP guidelines can be used to improve measurements, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas inventories for feed and livestock production systems and to enhance the NDCs.

Key messages

  • In order to enhance ambition in NDCs in an effective and efficient manner, there is need to compare production practices and identify the best ones making use of evidences. To do so, we need to measure performance with the appropriate tools.
  • FAO LEAP guidelines are useful tools to make informed choices on low-carbon livestock and environmental improvement, since they adopt a life cycle approach enabling to assess supply chains, while preventing shift in burdens from a geographical area to another and from climate emissions to other environmental areas, and vice versa. Largely aligned with the objectives of the KJWA, FAO LEAP guidelines can be used as one of the major tools enabling to identify the best practices.
  • As livestock sector emissions are different from those from other sectors, we need more than one indicator to understand the carbon footprint of the sector and to identify priority areas as highlighted by the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). This should be a must-have if environmental assessments are intended to compare sectors and draw recommendations, such as on life styles.
  • Nevertheless, as the livestock sector is a major contributor of short-lived GHG emissions (e.g. methane), irrespective of the indicators selected to assess its environmental footprint, it is of utmost importance that feed and livestock producers along with their supply chain partners take action on climate.
  • The Phase 3 of LEAP is taking the guidelines on the ground and providing a platform for sharing knowledge about good practices and for stimulating replicability to boost action.
  • Partnerships play a key role in taking Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the ground. Only by involving stakeholders, national strategies can be shaped and reach their objectives.
  • LEAP represents a partnership model that could be replicated at national scale in order to work on the livestock component in NDCs.
  • In order to support action over time and contribute to the climate agenda in the long run, we need to train the next generation of farmers and advisers from also including of FAO LEAP guidelines in the curricula of university courses in agriculture.

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