Decision-making about principles 1 through 6, from the farm to the supply chain level, will highly depend on local political, institutional, and economic contexts. Ensuring that the institutional, knowledge, and economic environment enables decision-making and innovation for improved sustainability is key to enhancing project outcomes, both during and after the project itself. A strong enabling framework is also key to evaluating the many synergies and trade-offs related to livestock development and require evidence- and consensus-based decisions.
Points of Consideration:
Is there potential to improve the enabling environment for sustainable livestock investment in the project country? If so, include project resources to:
✓ At the project concept stage, identify and analyze the knowledge, awareness, policy, and institutional challenges to implementing the relevant principles.
✓ In project design, include resources to address these challenges through:
- Shape the livestock and environment narrative strategically, flagging synergies and trade-offs.
- Raise and leverage consumer awareness.
- Build consensus and political will.
- Support local pilot programs and extension research to identify appropriate solutions.
- Utilize life-cycle assessment (LCA) approaches to quantify nutrient, chemical, and GHG flows.
Policy: Pair project investment with policy investment to:
- Establish environmental certification programs and market differentiation for sustainable livestock products.
- Pilot payments for environmental service and carbon offset programs.
- Establish and clarify regulations for environmental stewardship, land tenure, and animal health and welfare.
- Redirect subsidies toward environmental outcomes.
- Establish a unit within the relevant ministry to perpetuate the enabling environment.
- Develop country capacity for M&E to establish baseline data.
Shape the livestock and environment narrative strategically. Some of the literature on livestock and environment considers animal-sourced food production to be unsustainable. However, considering the contributions that livestock make to a broad range of development outcomes conveys a more realistic view. These outcomes include improved food and nutrition security; crop productivity; jobs and income diversification; asset saving and risk management; and biodiversity conservation and carbon stock enhancement on well-managed grasslands. Awareness raising in projects about the importance of sustainable livestock should objectively balance these contributions and account for them in efforts to quantify livestock impacts on the environment and economy.
Raise and leverage consumer awareness. Consumers increasingly are becoming aware of the health and environmental implications of animal-sourced food consumption. Investment in livestock can benefit from this awareness by linking producers who adopt sustainable practices to demand for sustainable products. Projects can include resources for awareness raising among consumers to help producers under the project link to this demand. Consumer demand may also influence political support for adopting the Principles.
Build consensus and political will. Adoption of the principles may not benefit all stakeholders and will often generate costs. Conservation of natural areas, for example, may adversely impact producer incomes or a country’s trade balance. Strong political consensus around the importance and urgency of sustainable livestock production practices may be necessary to enable a balanced assessment of synergies and trade-offs and put in place the regulations, subsidies, and market-based instruments that can shift production practices. Development investment can contribute to building such consensus and political will for adopting the principles by accounting for environmental costs in the economic assessment of projects (Naylor et al., 2006).
Support local pilot programs and extension research. While the literature provides considerable technical guidance to support adoption of the principles, projects will need to provide support for piloting and adopting improved practices for local conditions. Projects should include technical
assistance and extension services where necessary to support each principle adopted. Consolidating knowledge and evidence for the local applicability of the principles can help encourage further farmers to adopt them (Eisler et al., 2014).
Support education and research in the area of sustainable livestock systems. While knowledge is progressing at the global level, it is mostly advancing in high-income countries. The growth of animal production is, however, much more robust in low- to middle-income countries, and much work is still needed to properly grasp livestock-environment interactions in these regions, and to establish the technical itineraries that can bring livestock development on a more sustainable path.
Establish environmental certification programs and market differentiation for sustainable livestock products. Certification programs can help link consumer demand for sustainable products to producers who are adopting the principles. Projects may include resources to support producers in adopting existing certification programs, as well as to develop and pilot new, voluntary certifications for products such as livestock feed that are not generally certified. Projects may support certification and market development for organic manure products to compete with synthetic fertilizers.
Develop payments for environmental services and carbon offset programs. Low- and middle-income countries often have limited funds for incentive-based environmental programs. Pairing project investment with policy instruments to pay or in other ways incentivize producers to adopt the principles may significantly enhance project outcomes. Payments for environmental services programs have proven to be successful in Costa Rica in protecting natural areas. Carbon offset and other emission reduction programs in the livestock sector should be linked to national targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and accounting under nationally determined contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Establish and clarify regulations for environmental stewardship, land tenure, and animal health and welfare. Many countries today lack an effective regulatory framework for environmental, health, and welfare issues related to livestock. Pairing project investment with policy
investment can significantly enhance the long-term outcomes of the project and of the broader sustainability agenda. Policy investments may include support for developing voluntary guidelines, for instance, for nutrient management, as well as regulations for the siting of livestock projects (Naylor et al., 2006). Providing secure land access and rights can also help clarify responsibilities for environmental stewardship on productive lands.
Redirect subsidies toward environmental outcomes. Agricultural subsidies worldwide amount to about $1 billion per day and have a range of impacts on soil, air, and water resources (Peterson, 2009). These include subsidies for specific land uses, price, and income support for specific agricultural products and practices, and subsidies for agricultural inputs. Ensuring that agricultural subsidies incentivize good environmental management can help enable environmental outcomes in livestock investment projects.
Develop country capacity for M&E to establish baseline data and to track and capture investment benefits. Many countries do not collect detailed data on the livestock sector and are unlikely to collect data on its environmental impacts. Projects may include resources to develop monitoring and evaluation capacity to create livestock information systems, drawing on novel information technology options. Projects may also provide training in survey methodology and in data collection and analysis for livestock numbers, herd structure, forage and feed, and production practices, as well as for cost, income, and other economic data.
Establish an environment unit within the ministry/department of livestock. While projects may hire an environmental expert during implementation, the knowledge and capacities gained through the project may dissipate without a permanent, dedicated office. The project may thus include resources for the establishment of a permanent unit to continue to advance the livestock and environment agenda after the project closes. The capacities of such a unit would be developed as part of project activities and may serve to perpetuate the enabling environment for investing in sustainable livestock past the duration of the project.