On July 20th, I had the opportunity to attend the International Livestock Research Institutes side event and the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York. The side event was titled Sustainable Livestock, Sustainable Lives and it explored how to give livestock its rightful place in the SDG agenda. It highlighted how collaborations between researchers, government, farmers, civil society and the private sector contributes to support the livestock sector by creating sustainable, diverse and nutrition-enhancing food systems to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as supporting and promoting sustainable livestock and healthy diets.
Livestock is frequently a portal of entry for the landless and poor to economic production and household security. Domestic animals perform critical development functions through their contribution to nutritious diets, economic growth, poverty alleviation, and improved rural livelihoods. More than 1 billion people’s livelihoods depend on the livestock sector. Demand for animal-source products is expected to grow approximately twofold globally, and even more in low-income and emerging economies. Animal-source products – such as meat, dairy, and eggs – provide vital nutrition, particularly in the context of child and maternal health.
In order to be sustainable in its growth, the livestock sector needs to support livelihoods, contribute to enhancing economic and social well-being, protect public and animal health through the reduction of health threats to and from livestock, sustain natural resources and contribute to climate change mitigation. Livestock relates directly or indirectly to all SDGs. It most specifically helps deliver every target in Goal 2 of Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, as well as furthering Goal 1 in the fight against poverty, and Goal 3 on health. The Sustainable Development Goals are only achievable with the inclusion of livestock. To make the most of such opportunities, there is an urgent need to consult the livestock sector, increase awareness of policy-relevant investment needs and opportunities relating to the sector, and orienting policies, partnerships and investment in appropriate ways.