The integration, inclusion and the development of a high level roadmap for the delivery of local solutions to challenges facing the livestock sector were the key themes emerging from the last day of discussion at the seventh multi-stakeholder partnership meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) in Addis Ababa, last week (8–12 May 2017).
The Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock is a partnership of livestock sector stakeholders committed to the sustainable development of the sector. The partnership unites the forces of the public and private sectors, donor agencies, producers, research and academic institutions, NGOs, social movements and community-based organizations and foundations. It simultaneously addresses issues like global food security and health, equity and growth, and resource use and climate change.
On the last day of the meeting, speakers reiterated the need for greater integration of approaches to sustainable livestock development. Acknowledging the ground covered by the Global Agenda since its inception, Eduardo Arce Diaz of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and GASL operations consultant, stressed the need for greater clarity in translating the tools and case studies presented at the meeting into a roadmap for action.
‘We have taken a number of very concrete steps forward. Participants are now asking what they can do for GASL. This was not the case at the sixth meeting in Panama last year. We have presented many tools, but are still not clear as to their best application’.
Fritz Schneider, chair of GASL, went further.
‘Many solutions address the producer level. However, in many of the tools, I missed the interaction with the farmer [and] the livestock keeper. We have made progress but we are not there yet. We need to improve the link from the tool to the farmer via the extension services, or more generally via other service providers. Feedback mechanisms need to be developed for almost all the examples presented’.
One clear area for action, eluded to by many, was highlighted by François Pythoud, Ambassador of Switzerland to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, FAO and the World Food Programme. According to Pythoud, there are many key opportunities on the horizon for the Global Agenda to make a real impact.
‘The committee on agriculture has asked the FAO to develop a proposal for establishment of a sub-committee on livestock. This proposal will be discussed at the next committee on agriculture in 2018. This is an attempt by the member states of the FAO to raise the visibility of livestock at a global inter-governmental policy level. This is where we need the Global Agenda. The next meeting of the agriculture committee will be in September or October next year….”
‘This is a great opportunity for an action network on policymaking with the participation of governments… As the chair of the agriculture committee, I would be very interested in getting feedback from GASL on the role and the expectation from a sub-committee on livestock’.
Illustrating how FAO committees can influence larger political processes, Pythoud added:
‘Livestock was also discussed at the [United Nations] committee on food security, based on the recommendations on livestock of the High-Level Panel of Experts report… [These findings] will be sent to ECOSOC [the United Nations Economic and Social Council] and considered as background information at the High Level Political Forum in New York in July’.
Shirley Tarawali, representing the Guiding group of the Agenda and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), summed up many of the day’s and the week’s interventions. Tarawali said that the theme of integration had prevailed among the discussions of the participants. She called for the integration of stakeholders, multiple benefits of livestock and their related trade-offs, and the integration of policy, technical and commercial approaches to the benefit of small-scale producers and consumers.
But the speakers cautioned against focusing on producers to the exclusion of others in and outside the sectors. Both the NGO and civil society representatives, Pablo Manzano of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Pablo Frere of Redes Chaco, said the Global Agenda needed to do more to include a broader range of stakeholders, a sentiment reiterated by Samuel Thevasagayam, director of agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Recognizing the huge progress in establishing what is now, ‘the most comprehensive livestock forum in the world, a place to share, learn and collaborate’, Thevasagayam stressed the importance of including more diverse voices: farmers, other private sector actors and non-believers in the benefits of the livestock sector in the Global Agenda.
While many participants identified and prioritized some tools and case studies as clearly useful in bringing benefits at grassroots levels, others, including farmer representative, Georg Zinsstag, urged the development of concrete actions of the ground, in dialogue with beneficiaries. The tools for restoring grasslands, eliminating the disease, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), and increasing the supply and quantity of livestock were mentioned as priorities where action could be taken.
According to the tool developed by FAO, the cost: benefit ratio for acting to eliminate PPR was 1:34.8. Similarly, useful tools identified livestock solutions for increasing animal feed, addressing environmental challenges, improving grasslands and animal welfare, and gender approaches to tackling animal diseases. The main challenge, underlined by many speakers, was how to translate benefits from these tools on the ground across different livestock production contexts.
The seventh multi-stakeholder partnership meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock was supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the FAO, the Global Dairy Platform, the governments of Switzerland and France, Heifer International, ILRI and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ethiopia.
On Friday 12 May, Fritz Schneider, chair of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock announced that the next multi-stakeholder partnership meeting will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, tentatively set for May 2018. The meeting will be co-hosted by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry. The Global Agenda would like to thank Sergelen Purev—Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry—and his government for their kind offer.