A benchmarking framework for water use, soil health, land use, productivity, biodiversity, and climate change impacts of livestock modelled with CLEANED

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Benchmarking is essential for steps three and four of the CLEANED process, which involve an environmental impact assessment and the interpretation of results (FAO 2020). Benchmarking involves comparing oneself to an industry standard or an organisation with similar production practices or goals. The benchmarking process is usually geared towards improving performance through comparison, learning from others, and identifying actions that will ensure improved outcomes (Franks and Collis 2003, Keszthelyi 2017).

A benchmarking system for Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment for improved Nutrition, a secured Environment, and sustainable Development (CLEANED) model would allow users to compare their production practices to sustainability standards within the context of a defined livestock enterprise.

Ultimately, the benchmarking tool aims to translate the CLEANED analysis results into a simple ‘traffic light’ system where red means that the livestock enterprise is unsustainable, amber means that the enterprise is average, and green means that the enterprise is sustainable. An ideal benchmarking system would include annual reference data for every domain and indicator that the user decided to include in their CLEANED assessment.

Integrating benchmarking into the CLEANED process provides the user with metrics they can use to interpret how particular farming practices affect sustainability within their enterprise or system (Figure 1). Through this process, the user can better understand the environmental impacts of products like meat and milk. The user can also use this data to determine what changes need to be made in order to close the gap between their ideal environmental impacts, which are represented by the benchmark, and their actual environmental impact (Mekonnen et al. 2020).

Bosire, Caroline; Notenbaert, An Maria Omer; Paul, Birthe K.

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