Meat & Livestock News

FAO Reports Highlight Pathways to Sustainable Livestock Production Amid Rising Global Demand


  • The FAO has released reports highlighting the expected rise in global demand for livestock products and the importance of sustainable practices to meet this demand without exacerbating climate change.
  • Strategies for reducing emissions include improving livestock efficiency and genetics, enhancing animal health and welfare, and recognizing the role of carbon sequestration.
  • The FAO’s findings support a multifaceted approach to achieving lower emissions in livestock production, aligning with global efforts to limit temperature rise and ensure food security.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recently unveiled two pivotal reports that shed light on the future of livestock emissions and the sustainable practices necessary to curb them. Amidst growing global demand for animal products, projected to increase by 20% from 2020 to 2050, these reports underscore the critical balance between feeding a burgeoning population and mitigating climate change impacts.

Key findings from the FAO emphasise the potential for significant environmental gains through the adoption of more efficient livestock production methods, particularly in regions like the UK, known for their advanced agricultural practices.

The reports advocate for enhanced livestock genetics, improved animal health and welfare, and the integration of carbon sequestration strategies as essential components of a comprehensive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The “Pathways towards lower emissions” report, released as part of the COP28 discussions, identifies cattle as the primary source of livestock emissions globally, with enteric methane and manure management identified as major contributors.

Despite utilising the GWP100 metric, which does not account for carbon sequestration, the FAO acknowledges the short-lived nature of methane and the importance of reducing methane emissions to avoid surpassing a 2°C global temperature increase.

A range of mitigation measures has been evaluated, highlighting the benefits of increased productivity and breeding improvements. These strategies not only promise significant emission reductions but also offer a pathway to enhanced global food security without compromising environmental goals.

The FAO’s roadmap aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 – Zero Hunger, setting forth milestones for reducing methane emissions from livestock and increasing productivity to support healthy diets worldwide.

In response to these global directives, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is actively working to align UK farming practices with these goals.

Efforts include promoting carbon sequestration on farms, developing roadmaps to net zero emissions, and supporting farmers with evidence-based guidance on greenhouse gas mitigation. The AHDB’s initiatives reflect a commitment to transforming the narrative around livestock production, emphasising the sector’s potential to contribute positively to environmental sustainability and food security.