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Resizing the Livestock Industry

The objective of this coalition for action is to create a broad-based multi-stakeholder coalition to develop, model and implement cohesive and integrated measures that promote consumption and production of affordable, healthy diets within safe planetary boundaries from nature-positive agriculture with all animal-source foods deriving from systems providing a good quality of life for farmed animals. The coalition has four areas of focus:

  • Resizing the livestock industry and reducing meat and dairy consumption –
  • Shifting to nature-friendly, regenerative agriculture
  • Supporting a just transition
  • Adopting good standards of animal welfare
  • Further information on these four action areas appears in Sustainable Livestock Solutions Cluster Paper C.

Science based evidence to prioritize this coalition

The solutions are proposed in the context of a scientific evidence-base showing that a significant reduction in global consumption of meat and dairy is needed if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to meet the Paris climate targets,to reduce the environmental harms and overuse of natural resources stemming from current livestock production,to lower the incidence of non-communicable disease, and to minimise the use of antimicrobials and the risk of the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Research shows that the production of animal sourced foods needs to be reduced by at least half globally to stay within environmental limits and planetary boundaries. [1]Springmann, M., Clark, M., Mason-D’Croz, D. et al. Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature 562, 519–525 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0594-0 This global reduction should be undertaken on a contraction and convergence basis. This would enable increased consumption of humanely and regeneratively produced animal-source foods in some countries and regions and substantial reductions amongst high-consuming populations. [2]Willett et al, 2019. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31788-4 [3]Clark et al, 2020. Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change targets. Science 370, 705–708 [4]Springmann M., Godfray H.C., Rayner M. & Scarborough P., 2016. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change. PNAS vol. 113 no. 15: 4146–4151 [5]Keren Papier, Anika Knuppel, Nandana Syam, Susan A. Jebb & Tim J. Key (2021): Meat consumption and risk of ischemic heart disease: A systematic review and metaanalysis, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2021.1949575

There is scientific recognition that the best kind of animal welfare entails not only avoiding cages and crates and overcrowding but also providing opportunities for animals to have positive experiences, to have a good quality of life and to be kept in conditions which facilitate their capacity for pleasurable feelings such as companionship. [6]Mellor, D., 2016. Updating Animal Welfare Thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “A Life Worth Living”. Animals 6, 21. The FAO has stated: “A paradigm shift has become urgent. Animals are to be addressed as living beings to take care of and valorize, not only as a source of commodities to exploit”. [7]FAO. Animal Welfare L Archives. https://listserv.fao.org/scripts/wa-fao.exe?A0=FAO-ANIMALWELFARE-L&S=b Accessed 3 February 2021. A scientific briefing on farmed animal sentience is available on request.

Shifting to regenerative farming can minimise the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, while at the same time often enhancing productivity in poor countries. [8]Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Agroecology to reverse soil degradation and achieve food security (Rome, 2015) http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4803e.pdf

Mechanisms of implementation:

The coalition will identify mechanisms of implementation following initial meetings and consideration of policy mechanisms by working groups for each of the action areas. The coalition will also aim to add value to the work of other coalitons and initiatives including on One Health and Protein Diversification and those aimed at improving nutrition and farmer livelihoods.

Strategic partners:

Strategic partners are invited to join the coalition based on this concept note. We expect support from a broad spectrum of stakeholders including environmental, animal welfare and farming organisations, as well as industry and member states. The EU is supportive of a move to more sustainable agriculture. Its Farm to Fork Strategy has the objective of at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land being under organic farming by 2030. At the Agroecology Session on 26 July 2021 at the UNFSS Pre-summit representatives from several countries spoke in favour of agroecology.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Indicators and targets linked to the SDGs would be developed following discussions by stakeholders and agreement on mechanisms of implementation.

Focal point contacts

Express your interest in joining this coalition