“Climate Smart” Livestock Systems
Livestock production and consumption are controversial, in part because of the greenhouse gas emissions and land use changes to which livestock production contributes.
However, there is a large heterogeneity in these production systems across geographies and economies, so one “solution” won’t work for all systems.
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Livestock also contributes to a range of key nutritional, economic and environmental benefits to producers and consumers, again depending on type of production, ecology, social and economic context. There are significant differences, in particular, between “industrial” and less intensive systems. Furthermore, as with all agriculture, livestock production in the future will be significantly affected by climate and other environmental changes.
There are a number of research gaps to fill if we want to understand the role that “climate smart” livestock production might play in the future.
Polly Ericksen leads a research program on Sustainable Livestock Systems at the International Livestock Research Institute, based in Nairobi, Kenya. She holds an MSc in economics and a PhD in Soil Science. She has over 20 years’ experience working on agricultural development, natural resource management, food systems and global environmental change in the global tropics.