While animal products make large contributions to nutrition and the fight against poverty, they also entail outsized impacts on the climate and environment and assuring animal health is increasingly critical for human health, he said at the 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin.
Lowering carbon footprints
As livestock generates more greenhouse gases than other food sources - around 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic emissions - the sector's expansion poses challenges to biodiversity, sustainable access to water and, notably, the goals of the Paris climate agreement's pledge to limit how high average global temperatures rise.
However, "a low-carbon livestock sector is possible to achieve," Graziano da Silva said, pointing to FAO estimates that methane emissions can quickly be cut by 20 to 30 percent across all production systems by the adoption of known husbandry practices such as regenerative grazing, forage selection and better recycling of nutrients and energy from livestock waste. Better management of pasturelands and the health and carbon-storing capacity of their soils is also essential for increased livestock production not to require further deforestation, he added.
"With improved and climate-smart practices, we can quickly put in place more sustainable and ‘greener' livestock supply chains," Graziano said. He urged to seize the opportunity after last year's climate summit in Bonn COP23 specifically indicated improved livestock management systems as a priority.
Saturday January 20, 2018/ FAO.