UN Conference calls for more sustainable livestock

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UN Conference calls for more sustainable livestock
Agriculture ministers worldwide are digesting the details of the agreement struck at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which stressed the need for livestock production systems to be more sustainable.

The resulting 49-page document ‘The Future We Want’, commits UN member states to achieving this goal “through improving pasture land and irrigation schemes in line with national policies, legislation, rules and regulations, enhanced sustainable water management systems, and efforts to eradicate and prevent the spread of animal diseases”​. The final Rio+20 document also recognises that “the livelihoods of farmers including pastoralists and the health of livestock are intertwined”.

In the text, world leaders also further “reaffirmed the necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable agriculture, including crops, livestock… that improves food security, eradicates hunger, and is economically viable, while conserving land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, and enhancing resilience to climate change and natural disasters”.​ This could be achieved through agricultural research and sharing know-how with livestock producers and other farmers.

The conference also heard calls to tackle food waste alongside production. “The sustainable development goals (expected to be agreed by 2015) must mean increased food security – getting food to the market and throwing away less food”​, said Heikki Holmås, Norwegian development minister, during the Rio conference.

Meanwhile, Ephraim Nkonya, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute based in Washington, would have liked to see the strengthening of tenure for pastoral communities more clearly stressed in the final outcome document. “Current ‘land-grabbing’ and biofuel production has been affecting grazing lands of pastoral communities,”​ Nkonya told GlobalMeatNews.com​ in Rio.

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