Livestock and enteric methane

National climate actions cannot ignore the livestock sector

New FAO initiative supports countries to enhance climate actions in the livestock sector

©Ch. Errath


Sustainable livestock systems can be a major player in the fight against climate change, poverty and food insecurity. By addressing climate change in the livestock sector, countries can do their part to achieve the Paris Agreement’s long-term objectives, while building more sustainable, resilient and climate-friendly agrifood systems.

Much still needs to be done to reach the Paris Agreements’s goal of limiting the rise of average global temperatures below 2 °C and preferably 1.5 °C. The latest FAO’s global update report on nationally determined contributions (NDC) showed that only 36 percent of countries included livestock-related mitigation interventions in their recent NDC and 55 percent indicated livestock systems as a priority area for adaptation measures in the agricultural sector.

Adaptation and mitigation interventions need to be aligned with national policies and plans in order to be effectively actionable and produce concrete results. Yet, many countries have communicated finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building needs to improve the effectiveness of NDC planning and implementation across all sectors, including livestock. They also highlighted the lack of domestic systems to track adaptation and mitigation progress in a transparent and consistent way.

FAO’s response was no long in coming. During the first session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG)’s Sub-Committee on Livestock, Members requested FAO to support countries to integrate effective and actionable livestock-related mitigation and adaptation targets into their national climate actions and policies, conduct capacity-building programmes and improve greenhouse gas emissions reporting and assessments.

A new FAO initiative launched

FAO launched a new initiative on Policy analysis to support nationally determined contributions for climate action in livestock systems to help countries better integrate livestock adaptation and mitigation interventions in their national climate action. The initiative aims to improve countries’ understanding and analysis of their policy environment to better incorporate livestock development objectives with climate actions. This initiative targets both countries that already have livestock-specific interventions included in their NDC and those that still need to start integrating them.

Countries’ positive feedback

National consultations have been already undertaken in Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Senegal with positive results. “Burkina Faso's NDC does not contain any specific objectives related to the livestock sector yet”, stressed Victor Bonogo, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal and Fisheries Resources of Burkina Faso. “Therefore, it is necessary to identify opportunities to integrate specific objectives for the livestock sub-sector, particularly for agro-pastoral and pastoral systems, in our climate action and also to formulate policy recommendations that ensure the successful delivery of the climate action”, added the Secretary General during the Burkina Faso’s stakeholder consultation meeting in July 2022. Similarly, Beatrice Cyiza, Director-General of the Environment and Climate Change Department at the Ministry of Environment of Rwanda highlighted the importance of this FAO initiative for Rwanda, a country where NDC already considered specific livestock mitigation and adaptation commitments. “This FAO initiative on policy analysis fits into our planning process for the implementation of our nationally determined contributions and efforts to mainstream climate change across different sectors, especially agriculture and livestock”, said Cyiza.

Multi-stakeholder engagement

The engagement of all livestock stakeholders is a central element of this initiative. FAO organizes stakeholder consultation workshops in collaboration with the ministries of agriculture, livestock and the environment of the countries involved. These events mobilize different livestock stakeholders at the national level and are key to validate the results of preliminary analysis and formulate country-specific policy recommendations. During the workshop in Rwanda, for instance, livestock stakeholders highlighted the need for evidence of cost-beneficial methane mitigation options, especially for the private sector and other livestock value chain actors.

By joining the FAO initiative on Policy analysis to support nationally determined contributions for climate action in livestock systems, countries can not only raise the ambition of their livestock targets and actions to fight climate change but also set more realistic targets and commitments to improve their NDC planning and implementation.