Research Workshop: Taking a bite out of livestock’s environmental impact, prioritizing profitable, environmentally sustainable and inclusive livestock interventions

  • Date
    03.07.24
  • Time
    04:30 pm > 06:00 pm UTC+03:00
  • Location
    United Nations, Conference Room 8, Nairobi, Kenya

Thematic Areas: Climate Action, Better Crops, Sustainable Animal Foods, Gender & Inclusion

Everyone is aware of the Catch 22 of livestock -it contributes 75% of all methane emissions from agriculture, in addition to affecting soil and water health, and on the other hand, livestock farming provides an estimated 500 million farmers (including pastoralists) with income and micronutrient-rich food vital to vulnerable populations. So how do we address the environmental footprint and natural resource use of livestock without compromising livelihoods and food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable populations? We need to measure and monitor the footprints and make locally actionable recommendations and strategies for sustainable livestock!

The Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment for Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Development along Livestock Value Chains (CLEANED) tool, developed by CGIAR in collaboration with SEI and CSIRO, enables rapid assessment of environmental footprints. It allows users to analyze changes in livestock production systems, including land use, productivity, economics, water impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil health, supporting decision-making with multiple objectives. Evolving from Excel to R-based software, the latest version, I-CLEANED ExtRA, integrates an inclusive typology approach considering livestock system heterogeneity and socio-economic factors affecting environmental performance.

Furthermore, we can turn to nature for solutions. Forages – crops grown specifically to be consumed by livestock – look unassuming but are potential powerhouses in the fight against reducing methane emissions from livestock systems. Forages are already used in livestock production systems to improve the year-round quality of livestock feed and thus the efficiency of livestock production, Integrated in mixed farming systems, they can improve soil fertility, their deep roots can prevent soil erosion, restore soil organic carbon and enhance water productivity, and once ingested, they can change the composition of the gut microbial community in livestock, reducing methane emissions from enteric fermentation. 

A unique partnership has been recently established between science (ILRI, ICARDA, ABC), philanthropy (Bezos Earth Fund – BEF; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – BMGF), and public and private sector partners with project funding of $27 million over five years from BEF and BMGF. The project “Unlocking the potential of novel anti-methanogenic compounds (AMC) in CGIAR’s global collections of forages through screening, developing, and deploying antimethanogenic feedstock into livestock systems in the Global South” aims to discover ways to screen, breed, replicate, and deploy low-methane legumes and grasses in pastures across the Global South. The goal is to decrease methane emissions without negatively impacting the livelihoods of farmers who depend on livestock. Achieving rapid progress by thinking globally and acting locally requires valuable insights into the complex processes that govern methane emissions in livestock. These include: (i) the factors that influence methane emission rates; (ii) the impact of dietary and management interventions on methane emission in vivo; and (iii) the potential of anti-methanogenic compound (AMC)-rich forages as an effective mitigation strategy for the global south.

The session will begin by briefly highlighting livestock’s environmental footprint and natural resource use, while also introducing tested solutions and opportunities for expanding existing partnerships. Second, we will launch the I-CLEANED ExtRA tool, starting with an overview of the tool’s purpose and steps. A case study will demonstrate the tool’s architecture and processes, followed by a technical Q&A session. Real-life examples of environmental impact assessments across various livestock systems will inform discussions on recommendations and implementation strategies for a more sustainable livestock sector. This will be followed by an overview of the partnership project between CGIAR, BMGF and BEF in which the power of Low-Methane Forages for climate mitigation will be spotlighted. Lastly, an open discussion on further needs assessment and on expanding the existing collaboration to a wide range of partners from both the public and private sectors will allow for improved awareness within CGIAR and its partners on environmental impact mitigation strategies, and engagement on new opportunities for resource mobilization. 

Speakers:

  • An Notenbaert, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT
  • Jacobo Arango, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT