Livestock, Climate and System Resilience


Low- and middle-income countries urgently need resilient and low-emissions livestock solutions to respond to climate change. Facing a climate emergency, research must provide proven adaptive measures that safeguard and capitalize on livestock benefits. Livestock are essential to the income and livelihoods of almost 930 million poor Africans and South Asians.

Livestock production is highly vulnerable to rising temperatures, erratic precipitation and increasing extreme events. About US$311 billion in livestock production value is exposed to various climate hazards, especially drought, climate variability and heat stress. Dryland pastoral systems experience intensifying impacts from climate change and other forces. Research must also provide innovations that mitigate livestock climate impacts as livestock cause about 15% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearly 50% of low- and middle-income countries prioritize livestock actions in their Nationally Determined Contributions, but implementation lags. Governments need technical support to access finance, implement programs and report mitigation achievements.


This initiative aims to partner with public and private actors to develop and deliver actionable innovations that measurably help producers, businesses, and governments adapt livestock agrifood systems to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to sustainability and development goals across livestock systems.


This objective will be accomplished by:

  • Supporting pastoralists and farmers to adopt improved governance, management and restoration practices that build the resilience of their systems to climate-related stresses and crises by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing resource conflicts, and enhancing climatic risk management capacities.
  • Working with livestock producers to promote promising practices to build adaptive capacity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Increasing uptake of value chain-level technologies to manage climate risk by removing constraints around user capacities and affordability.
  • Building investor confidence in the livestock sector by better understanding investor needs and improving the capacity of small- and medium-sized enterprises to absorb finance.
  • Stimulating sustainable finance by providing evidence to five climate investors about how livestock production can be climate resilient, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be profitable.
  • Improving the national, regional and global enabling policy environment for system resilience-building, technology uptake and scaling, and increased climate financing in the livestock sector.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. Pastoralists and farmers adopt improved governance, management, and restoration practices on 500,000 hectares of land used for livestock production, with an increase of at least 25% in women’s active participation in decision-making processes.
  2. At least 300,000 livestock-producing households implement resilient, low-emissions technologies appropriate to their production system to improve their adaptation to climatic stresses, reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensities and reverse land degradation.
  3. At least 300,000 livestock producers (50% women and youth), and 13 public and private organizations access bundled climate information, insurance and credit services delivered through public-private partnerships. Women and youth, at least 25–50%, show an increase in their use of the bundled services.
  4. Impact investors, private sector entities, and international finance institutions plan US$50 million toward socially inclusive resilience building and/or low emission livestock agrifood systems interventions.
  5. International agencies and policymakers use Initiative products to shape at least five policies or investments for stronger resilient, low-emissions and socially-inclusive livestock agrifood systems, including at least three aiming to realize 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 reduces 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.


For more details, view the Initiative proposal


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