Livestock plays a critical role in food security and nutrition and climate mitigation

It was an honor to provide input to the communiqué in which ministers of 69 countries committed to shape the livestock sector for improving food security and nutrition sustainably, efficiently and responsibly.

The ministers made their commitments at the 10th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference on January 20th in Berlin, Germany during the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA).

During the Forum, I emphasized the critical role livestock plays in food systems facing emerging global challenges, such as persisting hunger and undernutrition, environmental sustainability, changes in global demographics, inequality, and rising food safety concerns.

Livestock provides smallholders an important source of income and functions as labor-saving, productive assets. Livestock also contributes to nutrition, as animal sourced foods are important, especially to reduce child stunting in developing countries.

Policy changes will be key for the global livestock sector to sustainably contribute to food security and nutrition. Developed countries will need to focus on mitigating GHG emissions, including through better feed and feeding practices, and manure management to ensure recovery and recycling of nutrients and energy.

On the other hand, developing countries should first focus on improving nutrition and human health, by promoting diet diversification with multiple animal sourced foods, and mitigating risk for food safety and zoonotic diseases from livestock. Greater support to smallholder livelihoods as well as climate adaptation and mitigation need to be promoted.

For all countries, policy innovations should ensure that livestock practices improve human nutrition, mitigate climate change, and support environmental sustainability. While there have been many innovations, such as taxing emissions-intensive foods to decrease GHG emissions and improve human health, more research is needed.

I highlighted IFPRI’s continued support to the Global Forum and key stakeholders by providing research and evidence to inform policies for food security and nutrition, as well as for sustainable livestock practices. We must work together to accelerate our progress towards a healthy and sustainable future.