Proposed way forward for livestock, climate change and food security

Climate & Natural resources,Food Security10 Nov 2010Katrien van 't Hooft

Four interesting recommendations were formulated during the lively side-event on Wednesday 3rd November on ‘Livestock, Climate Change and Food Security’. This event was organized by the Agri-Profocus partnership, together with ETC-Foundation, Cordaid, Heifer, SNV, and their partners working with livestock keepers in smallholder agriculture and pastoralism.

We had a full house with over 45 participants, as as well as music, film, lively presentations and discussions. All the presentations, as well as the list of participants, can be found here.

During the side event, the following four recommendations were formulated:

Differentiate between various livestock keeping systems

In the roadmap for livestock, climate change and food security, it is essential to differentiate between the various livestock keeping systems (smallholder, pastoralist, ranching, large-scale, specialized) that exist throughout the world. New policies need to build on field-based sustainable experiences in each system, in order to adequately take into account their specific function, characteristics and options for improvement.

Optimizing rather than maximizing livestock productivity

Agriculture, and especially livestock, is different from other sectors as it deals with living beings in complex soil-plant-animal-man interactions. Maximizing animal productivity (in terms of meat or milk per day or year) is not the only way to go in every place. Rather, we need long-term economically and ecologically sustainable agricultural development, in which livestock keeping is effectively supported to play its essential role in improving livelihoods, optimizing mineral efficiency as well as soil, plant and animal diversity and productivity. This entails mitigation through effective adaptation.

Recognition and effective support of pastoralist livestock keepers

Pastoralist livestock keepers are especially affected by climate change. At the same time, they have a special role to play for food security and climate change in the vast dryland areas of the world. It is essential to recognize this role and take steps to effectively support and revitalize pastoral indigenous knowledge and production systems, including the mobility that stands at its basis. Effective participation of pastoral civil society in policy making and implementation is required. The African Union policy framework on pastoralism needs to be implemented.

Payment for Ecosystem Services

Sustainable livestock keeping systems contribute to the resilience of ecosystems, as well as livelihoods, food security and climate change adaptation. Committed, new and additional public funding must come from industrialized countries for livestock keepers in developing countries, especially smallholder farmers and pastoralists, that put these sustainable livestock keeping systems in place.

The Agri-ProFocus partnership, the organizers of the side event ETC-Foundation, Cordaid, Heifer and SNV plus their partners working with livestock keepers in smallholder agriculture and pastoralism are committed to include these action points in their working plans for 2011 and 2012.