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Sustainable Livestock

Demand for animal-source foods in low- and middle-income countries more than quadrupled from 1970 to 2012 and population growth, urbanization, income gains and globalization continue to fuel this “livestock revolution”. While livestock systems support the livelihoods of millions of people and contribute to healthy diets and resilience, the rapid growth in production and trade has increased risks as well as opportunities. Of particular concern are threats to human and animal health, animal welfare and the environment.

Strong policies are needed in the livestock sector to optimise its contribution to achieving many sustainable development objectives.

FAO supports policy work towards sustainable livestock by strengthening the knowledge and evidence base of producers and others; developing tools, methodologies and protocols; piloting and assessing policy options and facilitating intergovernmental and multistakeholder dialogue.

To promote sustainable livestock, FAO works with governments, the private sector, research organizations, civil society, community groups, other intergovernmental organizations and donors.

Key policy messages

·        The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be recognized as the overarching framework guiding the development of the global livestock sector.

·        In January 2018 ministers at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture emphasized four domains of sustainability to enhance synergies and manage trade-offs in strengthening livestock policies:

  • Recognize the contribution of livestock to food and nutrition security.
  • Optimise the contribution that livestock make to livelihoods and economic growth.
  • Protect animal health and welfare, and public health as it relates to livestock, in particular by eliminating the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in livestock production, which exacerbates problems of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Minimize the impacts of livestock on climate and natural resource use. To this end, at COP25 in December 2019, FAO recommended five areas for practical action towards low carbon, sustainable livestock.

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