ROME, September 25, 2023 – In a groundbreaking initiative, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) convened the world’s first Global Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transformation in Rome today. The event, attended by participants from diverse sectors and regions, addresses the urgent need to enhance efficiency and equity while mitigating the environmental and social impacts of livestock production, a critical component of global agrifood systems.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu inaugurated the three-day conference, emphasizing the pivotal role of livestock production in providing essential nutrients and economic opportunities to billions worldwide. He underscored the importance of improving efficiency by optimizing feed conversion, reducing waste, and enhancing nutrient utilization to alleviate pressure on biodiversity, land, water resources, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Director-General Qu also highlighted the critical issue of global child nutrition, stating, “Many children in the world do not have access to milk.” He stressed the need for collaboration to address the challenges facing the livestock sector.
Sustainable livestock transformation requires an integrated approach to mitigate zoonotic disease risks and tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), Director-General Qu emphasized. He encouraged participants to actively share their expertise, emphasizing inclusivity for all stakeholders, including small-scale farmers, pastoralists, indigenous communities, and marginalized groups.
The conference also featured a Global Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Livestock Transformation in collaboration with the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED), focusing on empowering youth in the livestock sector.
Keynote addresses were delivered by experts from North Africa and East Africa, and Thanawan Tiensin, Director of FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division, presented FAO’s initiatives in the livestock and environment field.
A high-level panel at the opening session included representatives from Indonesia, Somalia, Uruguay, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland.
The conference comprised high-level panels and plenary sessions organized thematically around the “Four Betters”: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life. Topics covered a wide range, from animal feed and genetics to animal health and welfare, human nutrition, and technological innovations such as cell-based foods. Climate mitigation and adaptation practices, natural resource management, and greenhouse gas emissions were also discussed through case studies.
Side events included a presentation on the upcoming International Year of Camelids, the launch of 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 outcomes of the conference will be presented and discussed further at the Committee on Agriculture’s Sub-Committee on Livestock. FAO Members will work on concrete principles, priorities, and pathways to drive sustainable livestock transformation across 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 concluded. The conference represents a significant step forward in addressing the global challenges of sustainable livestock production, ensuring food security, and protecting the environment.