Livestock and the environment

The global demand and production of livestock products are increasing rapidly, due to the population growth, rising income, and changes in lifestyle and diets. At the same time, livestock systems have a significant impact on the environment, including air, land, soil, water, and biodiversity. This sector growth needs to be addressed in the context of finite natural resources, contribution to livelihoods and long-term food security, and climate change responses. FAO works to transform and make livestock systems more sustainable, productive and resilient.
FAO’s role in livestock and the environment

Livestock are key drivers for sustainable development in agriculture. They contribute to food security, nutrition, poverty alleviation, and economic growth. Through the adoption of best practices, the sector can reduce its environmental impacts and become more efficient in the use of resources

FAO provides comprehensive analysis of the sector from a social, economic and environmental perspective and develops tools and policy guidance for sustainable livestock development. It provides policy advice, institutional capacity building, monitoring of progress, and facilitates multi-stakeholder partnerships, including governments, private sector, civil society and non-government organizations, international institutions, and academia.

As part of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, FAO is committed to assist countries to approach zero hunger while tackling climate change through improved livestock systems management.

Areas of work

Strengthening the knowledge and evidence-base towards sustainable livestock: assembly of datasets; analysis towards sustainable livestock agri-food systems; production of technical documents and policy briefs, and participation at international fora.

Developing tools, methodologies and guidelines to provide and assess technical and policy options towards sustainable livestock:

Piloting and validating technical and policy options through projects and support to up-scaling and investments

  • African Sustainable Livestock 2050. FAO pilots methodologies and builds country capacity to identify emerging challenges associated with the transformation of the livestock sector; design and implement policy instruments to address specific challenges on the ground.

  • Reducing enteric methane for improving food security and livelihoods. The project is a collaboration between FAO and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) and is funded by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).  It aims to support low and middle-income countries to identify system-specific technologies and interventions aimed to increase livestock productivity, food security and reduce enteric methane emissions.

  • Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. Working in close collaboration with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other actors at international and national level, FAO is helping countries develop and implement new strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector.

Facilitating policy dialogue towards sustainable livestock, while optimizing synergies and managing trade-offs among diverse development objectives:

  • Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock. A multi-stakeholder partnership committed to the sustainable development of the livestock sector through dialogue, consultation, joint analysis and actions.