Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has emphasised the importance of sustainable livestock at the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Sustainable livestock and animal-sourced foods must play a critical role in meeting the basic food security and nutritional demands of vulnerable groups, Minister McConalogue said.

This is of particular importance in the context of a globally increasing population, he highlighted during a high-level ministerial discussion at the FAO headquarters in Rome.

Sustainable livestock

The first Global Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transformation organised by the FAO which took place for three days concluded in Rome today (Wednesday, September 27).

“Sustainable livestock systems must be an integral part of our strategy to address the challenges of climate change and the impact of food systems in global warming.

“This conference has provided an opportunity for a balanced discussion and science-based dialogue on the importance of animal protein in sustainable, healthy diets,” the minister said.

Speaking during a panel discussion, he noted that Irish farmers are “already committed” to working together to find solutions to the environmental challenges of livestock production.

Ireland’s environmental focus in agriculture is on reducing emissions, increasing carbon removals by land and forests and generating energy through biomass, solar PV and the development of a biomethane industry, the minister said.

“Our Food Vision 2030 ambition is for sustainability in all its forms, environmental, economic and social, with sustainable livestock systems as an integral part of our agri-food sector,” he added.

The minister also had a meeting with FAO Director General Qu Dongyu, and a discussion on sustainable livestock transformation with agricultural students attending the Global Youth Dialogue.

FAO conference

The three-day conference was attended by more than 700 participants, including 27 ministers or senior government officials, and 100 youth representatives, according to the FAO.

Qu urged all parties to translate their words into concrete actions, acknowledging the difficulty of the task while emphasising it is “essential for the well-being of people and the planet”.

One of the messages that emerged from the conference is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the agriculture sector on which more than 1.7 billion depend, the FAO said.

The FAO also opened the first Global Conference on Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation in Rome today which will take place over the next three days.