25 September 2023, Rome: Participants from multiple sectors and around the world gathered in Rome today for the opening of the first-ever Global Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transformation. Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the event aims to address the pressing challenge of how to produce more with less environmental impact, less social impact and more economic return with greater equity.
“Livestock production is a vital part of our agrifood systems, providing essential nutrients for all and enhanced livelihoods and economic opportunities for billions of people around the world,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in remarks opening the three-day conference. FAO advocates that improving efficiency is essential to producing more with less. In the case of livestock, efficiency can be pursued by optimizing feed conversion, reducing feed loss and waste and enhancing nutrient utilization, all of which can reduce pressure on biodiversity and land and water resources, as well as decrease greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate environmental degradation.
“We should appreciate all the people who provide and produce animal protein products, and then work together on how to improve all the challenges related to the sector,” Qu said. Many children in the world do not have access to milk, he emphasized.
Successful sustainable livestock transformation also requires an integrated approach that mitigates the risk of zoonotic diseases and tackles the issue of anti-microbial Resistance (AMR), he added.
The Director-General urged all participants to actively share their expertise, insights and experiences, emphasizing that the Conference has been designed to give voice to all stakeholders including small-scale farmers and pastoralists, indigenous communities and marginalized groups. He also highlighted the simultaneous hosting of a Global Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Livestock Transformation, organized in collaboration with the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED) and focused on opportunities and solutions for empowering youth in the livestock sector.
After the Director-General’s opening remarks, keynote addresses were given by experts based in North Africa and East Africa, while Thanawan Tiensin, Director of FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division, gave a presentation on FAO’s initiatives and work in the area of livestock and the environment.
Syahrul Yasin Limpo, Indonesia’s Minister of Agriculture, Said Hussein Iid, Somalia’s Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Fernando Mattos, Uruguay’s Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Thongphat Vongmany, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, participated in a high-level panel at the opening session, as did senior government officials from Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.
The proceedings consist of several high-level panels focusing on policy and densely-programmed plenary sessions thematically organized in alignment with the Four Betters: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life. Topics discussed range from animal feed and genetics, animal health and welfare, human nutrition and technological innovations including cell-based foods, expanding to case studies in climate mitigation and adaptation practices, natural resource management and the state of knowledge regarding greenhouse gas emissions.
Side events include a presentation on the upcoming International Year of Camelids, a new FAO report on methane emissions from livestock and rice systems, and the opening of a Joint Exhibition on Sustainable Livestock Transformation and Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization.
The youth dialogue featured a mix of success stories, brainstorming events and a host of working sessions.
The outcomes of the conference will be presented and further discussed at the Committee on Agriculture’s Sub-Committee on Livestock, where FAO Members chart concrete principles, priorities and pathways to galvanize sustainable livestock transformation in the world’s different regions and contexts.
“Together, we can build a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive future for the livestock sector, benefiting both people and the planet,” Director-General Qu said.
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