Livestock and Climate


For millions of families in low- and middle-income countries, keeping livestock is a buffer against climate and other shocks. In addition to their livelihood and nutrition benefits, livestock help communities adapt to climate change and provide important environmental services. At the same time, livestock production is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly heat stress and increased variability in precipitation (both trends and extreme events).  

One of the most important development challenges, therefore, is to provide livestock-dependent communities with the support they need to protect and enhance their animal assets — but without accelerating greenhouse gas emissions or degrading land, water and biodiversity. Greater evidence and research attention into the complex livestock–climate dynamic is needed, while investments in mitigation in target countries needs to be balanced with urgent adaptation objectives.    

To meet this challenge, strategic and well-targeted action research is needed that provides answers to the tough choices and trade-offs as well as “investable” solutions that attract policy attention and climate finance in countries across Africa and Latin America. 


This Initiative aims to address the “double burden” that climate change poses for livestock production across Africa and Latin America. Researchers are working with public and private actors to identify existing solutions and to co-create and deliver innovations that quantifiably help producers, businesses and governments adapt livestock agrifood systems to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 


This objective will be accomplished by:

  • Improving local capacities and inclusion in livestock production through biometric and socioeconomic analysis of proposed on-farm technology packages to support inclusive scaling of resilient low-emission practices. 
  • Developing digital services to manage climate risk and inform decision-making in livestock agrifood systems by co-designing, testing and scaling digitally enabled services that bundle tailored climate information, risk transfer and credit strategies.  
  • Undertaking system-level research and interventions for climate-resilient and low-emission livestock production systems, focusing on understanding, measuring and rebuilding climate resilience within pastoral systems, with research-to-development partnerships that optimize scaling a priority.  
  • Helping finance the transition to low-emission and resilient livestock agrifood systems by creating a research program that builds investor awareness of and confidence in livestock investments with stated resilience and emission goals. 
  • Improving the enabling policy environment by generating data and developing systems to improve the design and implementation of policies and investment proposals at national and global level and supporting governments to monitor and quantify livestock contributions to climate commitments. 


    This Initiative will work in Colombia, Guatemala, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Tunisia. 


    Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

      1. At least 80,000 households implement climate-smart practices and technologies that enable them to withstand climate shocks, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate benefits for women, as well as men.  
      2. At least 320,000 livestock producers (50% women and youth) and 13 public and private organizations access climate risk management strategies.   
      3. Pastoralists and farmers adopt improved governance, management and restoration practices on 500,000 hectares of land used for livestock production.   
      4. Impact investors, private-sector entities and international finance institutions mobilize US$25 million for socially inclusive resilience-building and/or low-emission livestock agrifood systems interventions. 
      5. International agencies and policymakers use the Initiative’s products to shape at least four policies or investments to strengthen socially inclusive low-emissions livestock production system resilience, including at least three aimed at realizing climate change-related adaptation or mitigation progress.


              Projected impacts and benefits include:



              Self-sustained and adaptive pastoral agrifood systems lead to pastoralists and others being more resilient to climate shocks. Resilient and low-emissions livestock animal source foods equip producers with adapted solutions, practices and capacities so they can deal with climate shocks and risks. Increased on-farm production efficiencies and sustainable land management reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Investments in land improvements, restoration and rehabilitation improve carbon storage/sequestration of land at local level and contribute to Land Degradation Neutrality country commitments, including land cover and productivity. Investments and national policy interventions help countries meet emissions reduction commitments and adaptation goals. 


              Improved pastoral agrifood systems coping better with climate change and other crises reduce the number of people experiencing hunger. Resilient and low-emissions livestock animal source foods safeguard affordable access to animal source foods by the poorest and most vulnerable people, improving food and nutritional security. Appropriate management of animal source foods also helps curb the spread of zoonotic diseases and foodborne illnesses. 


              Resilient and low-emissions livestock animal source foods buffer the livelihoods of livestock-producing households against climate variability, enabling them to better manage risks and generate more reliable income from their livestock. Equitable engagement of communities, particularly women and youth, in dynamic value chains reduces the number of people living in poverty, increases household income, and leads to economic empowerment. 


              Focus on women and youth in the development of value chains increases employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth in the sector, reduces migration and strengthens the rights of women to economic and other resources, contributing to overall social inclusion and empowerment. 


              Resilient and low-emissions livestock animal source foods reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. They also help restore soil and rangelands and reduce deforestation, promoting sustainable landscapes, maintaining and/or increasing biodiversity and providing ecosystem services. They reduce deforestation by decreasing land pressure and, by extension, reduce a major driver of biodiversity loss. Improvements in nutrients and water cycling, and in waste management, improve water use. 


              Projected benefits are a way to illustrate reasonable orders of magnitude for impacts which could arise as a result of the impact pathways set out in the Initiative’s theories of change. In line with the 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, Initiatives contribute to these impact pathways, along with other partners and stakeholders. CGIAR does not deliver impact alone. These projections therefore estimate plausible levels of impact to which CGIAR, with partners, contribute. They do not estimate CGIAR’s attributable share of the different impact pathways.


              Header photo: Improved boran cattle at ILRI’s Kapiti farm. Photo by J. Meyers/ILRI.


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