Introducing animal welfare into the sustainable livestock sector transformation debate

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Animal Welfare, Food Systems

Meeting of the FAO sub-committee on Livestock

The FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG) is set to reconvene its Sub-committee on Livestock (SCL) for its second session from July 16-18, 2024. Established in 2020, the SCL serves as a platform for UN Member States to discuss and build consensus on livestock-related issues. It advises COAG, and through it, the FAO Council and Conference on the strategic direction needed to optimise livestock’s contribution to global food security and nutrition.

The upcoming session will focus on three main thematic areas: 1. sustainable livestock systems for food security and inclusive economic growth; 2. animal, public and environmental health through the One Health approach; and 3. the interplay between natural resource use, climate change, and biodiversity.

Concerning the first thematic area, the FAO and the SCL are conducting a comprehensive global assessment of the contribution of livestock to food security, sustainable food systems, nutrition and healthy diets. This assessment, structured in four parts, will present components two and three—focused on the supply and demand drivers of terrestrial animal source food and the livestock sector’s contribution to food security and sustainable agrifood systems—for discussion.  Component four will be integrated into a synthesis report and plan of action, to be agreed upon at an inter-sessional meeting of the SCL in 2025.

The SCL session’s agenda offers opportunities to highlight the importance of animal welfare in addressing AMR, zoonotic disease emergence, and the impact of the current livestock model on biodiversity and climate change.  The outcomes of these discussions are expected to significantly influence the integration of animal welfare into future sustainable livestock policies globally.

Our recommendations

The WFA secretariat, together with the Animal Welfare Action Network of the Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock (GASL), along with the Brooke and Compassion in World Farming, has prepared a policy brief titled ‘Acting on Animal Welfare for Sustainable Livestock Transformation.’ This document will be circulated to UN Member State missions in Rome ahead of the SCL meeting. The key recommendations from this brief have been incorporated into the formal GASL policy brief presented to Member States.

Post-session, the Federation will develop a joint strategy to ensure that animal welfare remains central to the Global Action Plan for sustainable livestock transformation slated for agreement in 2025.

This SCL session represents a pivotal moment for advancing a holistic approach to livestock management that balances productivity with the health and welfare of animals, humans, and the environment, setting the stage for a more sustainable and equitable global food system.

Written by

Arjan van Houwelingen

Chief Strategic Policy & Public Affairs at WFA.

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