11th Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Meeting

Day 1: Exploring the global context and opportunities for livestock

08-06-2021. This week’s 11th Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) began on Monday, 7 June, with a welcome from Shirley Tarawali, Chair of GASL and Assistant Director-General of the International Livestock Research Institute  (ILRI). Tarawali highlighted the important contributions livestock make to sustainable food systems. Christian Hofer, Director-General of Switzerland’s Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), also welcomed the visitors to this global online event. Hofer made explicit the role of GASL’s global multi-stakeholder partnership in making the livestock sector and food systems more sustainable. He added that GASL was also helping the international community to reach a common understanding of the central roles livestock should play in discussions and plans leading up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), which will be held in September 2021. 

The plenary sessions on the first day of the GASL meeting featured a breadth of expertise and perspectives on the importance of change and diversity in the global livestock sector. These plenary talks included a presentation by Henning Steinfeld, Head of the Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Steinfeld spoke of the critical need for the world’s food systems to transform. He, too, enumerated the many contributions livestock make to sustainable food systems, but he also named some major challenges to such sustainability presented by a growing global demand for animal protein and future uncertainties, especially the threats of future disease pandemics and climate change.  

The need for embracing change and harnessing diversity was also addressed by GASL Chair Tarawali, who outlined the results of a GASL-ILRI independent Food Systems Summit Dialogue that will feed not only into GASL’s next action plan and the September UNFSS but also into GASL’s engagement in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), to be held this November. Tarawali emphasized ‘embracing change’—e.g. by making new connections and taking new actions—and ‘harnessing diversity’—e.g. by appreciating the many forms livestock systems take and by appropriately nuancing livestock issues in communications.

This session was followed by a panel discussion featuring Jude Capper, a livestock sustainability consultant and Professor of Sustainable Beef and Sheep at Harper Adams University, in the UK; Cynthia Mugo, a Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Advisor at ILRI, in Kenya; and Lloyd Day, Deputy Director-General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in Costa Rica. The panel participants were asked for the take home message from the dialogue, as well as one key change and opportunity to harness livestock diversity. The panellists addressed livestock’s roles in sustainable food systems, technological innovations that can improve the livelihoods of livestock farmers, the need to improve communications around livestock issues, and the need for food systems experts to work across different sectors and to embrace diversity. 

The second session of this first day of the GASL meeting introduced a multi-stakeholder initiative called “Net-Zero Pathways to Low-Carbon Dairy”. Donald Moore, Executive Director of the Global Dairy Platform, spoke on behalf of the several collaborating organizations worldwide seeking to raise climate action in the dairy sector. Taking a multi-dimensional view of the sustainability of dairy, this ‘Net-Zero’ initiative is working to stimulate stakeholder commitments and to develop methods and tools to track, monitor and report on progress in the dairy sector.

Speakers on a panel that followed, facilitated by Liz Wedderburn, Emeritus International Ambassador at AgResearch, in New Zealand, included Amos Omore, an epidemiologist and ILRI Representative for Eastern and Southern Africa, based in Tanzania; Tsetgee Ser-Od, a dairy technologist and cheese producer in Mongolia; and Pablo Frere, a veterinarian and Executive Secretary of Redes Chaco and focal point of the Latin American Alliance of Pastoralists (Pastoraméricas), in Argentina. The panellists said they welcomed the “Net-Zero” initiative as an important opportunity to support low-carbon dairy while raising the productivity of small-scale livestock keepers and supporting collaboration among different stakeholders in sustainable livestock systems. 

The final session of the first day of the GASL meeting involved the screening of a film showing how livestock farms and enterprises in the Swiss & French Jura Region were embracing change. The film showcased some of the region’s sustainable livestock systems based on regenerative agricultural practices and a ‘circular bioeconomy’. Following this screening, Nancy Bourgeois Lüthi, a lecturer and researcher in the School of Agriculture, Forest and Food Sciences at Bern University of Applied Sciences, outlined the results of a GASL sub-regional consultation previously held in the Jura Region. Lüthi noted some of the specific livestock opportunities and challenges in this region, including the short value chains for milk, cheese and other livestock products, the value-added to some of the region’s specialized products, the multi-functionality of the region’s grasslands, the impacts of climate change on the region, and specific ways to enhance animal welfare. Other topics raised were better use of communications to present livestock-based issues, better use of natural and genetic resources in livestock production systems, and the importance of enhancing ‘food sovereignty’.   

Watch the recordings here