Dairy’s commitment to sustainable development


Both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement represent the road map for global action to, amongst others, end poverty, protect the planet, and improve livelihoods while tackling climate change. Governments and the private sector are called to quantify performance of their current activities, plan towards climate change mitigation and the broader Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), undertake action, and report progress on periodical basis.

In the past years, the global dairy sector has been continuously working on improving its long-term sustainability. Agreements such as the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, signed in 2016 by FAO and the International Dairy Federation (IDF), show the dairy sector’s commitment to sustainable development. It recognises the significant contribution that dairy makes to countries’ economies, the essential role of dairy in a balanced diet, and the key role the sector plays in addressing environmental degradation and climate change. To date, 28 members of the dairy chain around the world, representing over 46 percent of global milk production, have signed the Dairy Declaration in support of the sustainable development of the worldwide dairy sector and the generation of widespread social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Part of the dairy sector’s commitment to sustainability is continued involvement in the FAO Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership. Through its global network, IDF has played a large role in three LEAP initiatives: LEAP1, which largely focused on the harmonization of accounting rules for the quantification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock supply chains (feed, small ruminants, large ruminants, poultry, pig); and LEAP2, where the focus has been on the development of soil carbon stock changes guidelines, nutrient cycle guidelines, water footprinting guidelines, biodiversity guidelines and feed additives or change-oriented approached guidelines. In LEAP3, IDF continues to contribute to the new work programme, collecting feedback on the use of the guidelines and contributing to the application and uptake of the FAO LEAP guidelines in several countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Also, in 2019 IDF took up the chairmanship role in the Partnership, rotated to the private sector from the country cluster.

How is working the sector to improve dairy production? 

  • Curbing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, using a science-based approach to calculate the carbon footprints of dairy production and dairy products and improve efficiency.
  • Reducing water use, improving the water footprint of the dairy sector and contributing to environmental sustainability.
  • Innovating solutions for wastewater management, driving sustainability and continuous environmental improvement of the dairy sector.
  • Maintaining biodiversity, understanding the impact of the dairy sector on ecosystems at local level and identifying ways to enhance ecological benefits.