Key Aspects of Multi-Stakeholder Partnership

Interview with by Berhe G. Tekola

For the Director of FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division making livestock production a sustainable system is the most important issue in livestock sector right now.

In terms of in industrialization he sees pros and cons. Extensive production systems and the way the livestock sector was currently managed had problems. “However, it is always possible to reach an equilibrium, a balance between the extensive and industrial system”, he said in the interview.

According to Tekola resilience is seen so ambivalently in the realm of livestock policy because the sector had not done its homework in the past. The way it operated, the way produced and managed resources was not sustainable, and resilience could not be achieved overnight. For the livestock sector to be resilient, the background information for action should be based on sustainability.

Smallholders should be the ones benefitting from this kind of approach, not only the larger scale industries. It was an issue of creating a win-win situation between the economic benefits, the social benefits and livelihoods.

About the new video interviews

In this interview series Global Agenda members get the opportunity to speak about their experiences and expectations of the partnership. Stakeholders from the adjacent development cooperation arenas will be requested for interviews as well. The aim is to highlight the importance of the Global Agenda’s political perspectives.

Please feel free to suggest prospective interview partners to the secretariat, including ideas on the subject and possible critical angles for the questions.


Interview Transcript

Pascal Corbé, communications consultant: What is the most important issue in livestock production right now?

Berhe G. Tekola, Director of the Animal Production and Health Division, UN FAO:  The most important issue in production is how best we can make it a sustainable system. That means to respond to the global challenges, such as environmental, social and economic challenges.

PC: Have your policy recommendations been picked up, in general?

BT:  Yes, the policy recommendation is being provided by the globe, starting from the nations - which is now presented from the sustainable development cause. This is in line with FAO Policy. Particularly, when we come to livestock sector, it is quite in-line for that. Sustainability should have to be the key and the springboard policy to respond to global challenges.

PC: What do you think are the most pressing issues around industrialized livestock production?

BT: I will come back to the sustainability issue. Whatever we do, whatever we produce, the production and productivity should have to meet the sustainable approach. In industries, there are pros and cons. When we deal with an extensive production system, the way we manage the livestock sector and whenever we deal industry, the way we manage them - they defer. But, it is always possible to reach an equilibrium - the balance between the extensive and industrial system.

Again, the line of production and productivity is coming from the non-industrial sector. To add into it the industrial sector should have to meet the sustainable way of operation and approach.

PC: Is there tension between the donor-country side with sustainable industry versus the trajectory developing countries want to go - because obviously the Global Agenda is about sustainable livestock?

BT: Yes, there is always a balance and there is always a difference. And that is the beauty of bringing all of the stakeholders onboard. And, discussing what is on the table. The objective of FAO’s role in this activity is to create a dialogue within the Member States and within different clusters. It is also a hub for information analysis and then an opportunity to create the change of practice. Though, we don’t expect to have a one model type of production system.

But, to bring onboard different production systems, donors, research and academia, and civil societies. And bring the ideas to the table, and discuss them instead of condemning one or another.

PC: I want to speak about resilience.  The term resilience has been en vogue for a couple years now in development corporation.  Why is resilience seen so ambivalently when it comes to keeping livestock?

BT:  It’s because we have not done our homework in the past, because whatever we do - the way we operate, the way we produce and manage our resources is not sustainable - the resilience cannot be achieved overnight. For the livestock sector to be resilient, the background information or work should have to be based on sustainability. We have to do the developmental activities, like managing the degraded grassland or managing the Waste to Worth mechanisms. That is one of the Action Networks of the MSP [Multi-stakeholder Partnership of the Global Agenda]. And of course, efficiency gap analysis of the production systems have to be worked out. If we are not working those, then resilience by itself cannot be achievable.

PC: The Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock is holding their multi-stakeholder meeting in Addis Abeba, and it is going to be about multiple social benefits of livestock keeping/production. What is the most important of those social benefits? And why is it important for the Agenda to actually act on that one?

BT: The MSP to take place in Addis Ababa was seen as a continuation of other MSPs. This is going to be the 7th MSP and we’ve had another six MSPs before. The very reason why this certain approach was needed, was because countries demanded it. The governing body of FAO, which is called the COAG demanded in 2010 that the FAO intervene and give solutions to the livestock, environment related activities.

Now, since then FAO established the MSP in 2011, and then conducted different MSP platforms. This is in view of responding to the resource hunger sector. The livestock sector is resource-hungry in terms of land, water, and other resources. But, of course, it had its own advantages where the livestock sector is the only sector that converts inedible materials to edible materials. In order to keep the balance of the environment.

Of course, there are issues we cannot deny. The livestock sector has contributed to the greenhouse gas emission, and this means that the solution is also within the livestock sector. If we work on the MSP Principles. This MSP is now going to discuss the continuous effort of different clusters. To start with governments, private sector, any of those, research and academia, civil societies, and of course intergovernmental and multilateral international organisations. And this is in response to the needy people on the ground, particularly the smallholders are going to benefit from this kind of approach, of course industries as well. It is an issue of creating a win-win situation between the economic benefits, the social benefits and livelihood.

PC: You just spoke about bringing the benefits to the people. If you have a conference like this in a developing country capital, there is always the expectation that this conference in itself will already bring some benefits. This is probably a bit short, the connection theoretically, but still if you go to Addis now, what would you say is the benefit for the East Africa region?

BT: We have some Action Networks that can benefit the majority of the livestock keepers, be it industry or smallholder farming systems. The reason why we are saying that it benefits, it is not going to be over night. It is a dynamic process. We have been in the lower level of sustainability, and now we are taking the momentum. By changing the waste to worth, by filling the efficiency gap, and by rehabilitating the degraded grasslands, then it will benefit the environment.

By benefitting the environment, we are benefitting the planet and the people as well. Again, the other three Action Networks are on the best-practices and practice change. The silvo-pastoral system that is really bringing an impact on how best to manage the forests with the livestock cohabitation or coexistence.

Dairy Asia is another example. And of course, the Livestock Environmental Assessment Partnership is a very good tool that is bringing a positive impact to the countries that are picking it immediately.

PC: What will you say are particular issues in Eastern Africa, and what is the Global Agenda doing there? And there going to be showcased on that? Can you pick one that is important there in East Africa?

BT: In Eastern Africa, as you know, the lion share of the cattle population is in the Eastern part of the Horn - that is Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. And if you see their production system is backward and traditional, for that the grassland is highly degraded. And if this is to benefit the countries, this region will be the first to benefit from the GASL or the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock initiatives or programs

PC:  The FAO has been doing quite a lot of things around the SDGs, obviously being a UN organisation. Your unit has been looking at what is in the SDGs for livestock? You have identified a number of things. Why is it not enough for livestock to link it to the SDGs in terms of process?

BT: In fact, there are quite a lot of activities in line with the SDGs. The livestock production and productivity respond, or is in line with some of the key SDGs. Let’s start with Poverty Reduction - SDG1, Eradication of Hunger - number 2. If you say Gender Equity - SDG5. Intervening in decent work - SDG8. And SDG10 is dealing with inequalities of countries, just reducing the inequality, SDG10, SDG13. All the way to SDG15, which is dealing with climate, forest management and livestock. And of course, SDG17, Partnership. It is all in line with what we are doing in the livestock sector

Recently, we have had the “Pizza Exercise,” we did it in the last MSP in Panama, if you see the contribution of the seven clusters inline with the SDGs, practically the livestock sector addresses 17 SDGs, directly or indirectly. But mainly, SDG1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 17, and 15.

PC: Why is it not enough? It’s a reporting tool? Working with the SDG in in itself does not create new jobs.

BT: The livestock sector is not really well represented because there is a lack of interest in it by many of the policymakers. Inadequate understanding of the sector’s contribution to livelihood, to the planet and to the people. But FAO, what it’s doing, is how best we can really reach the policymakers, the globe in general, and let them understand what the livestock contribution is to the livelihood, to the planet, to the people. We are not advocating the livestock sector, per sé. But the impact of it on the livelihood and the environment.

PC: Thank you very much.

BT: You’re welcome.