Taking stock of livestock and sustainable development

Livestock can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – if we manage it well. Explore the interactions with a new visualisation

By Gareth Salmon and Vanessa Meadu

Five years ago, the United Nations member states pledged to work together towards “peace and prosperity for people and the planet” by achieving 17 ambitious targets by 2030. Like all sectors of society, the livestock sector has a role to play in fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And while the COVID-19 pandemic has massively derailed countries’ progress and disproportionally harmed poor and vulnerable people, there are plenty of actions the livestock sector can take to help turn things around. 

Livestock touches all facets of sustainable development

The livestock sector is an integral part of many agricultural systems, and sits at the nexus between human and natural systems. Therefore, the impacts – both negative and positive – that the livestock sector has on sustainable development should be given due attention and understanding. Our new interactive dashboard explores how the livestock sector relates to each of the SDGs, and points to some of the interactions and trade-offs that should be considered when thinking about the future of livestock production.

Click to explore how livestock interacts with the Sustainable Development Goals

Explore the Livestock and SDG dashboard 

With this tool you can visually explore facts and figures that illustrate the links between livestock and the SDGs, drawn from the 2018 report “Transforming Livestock through the Sustainable Development Goals” by the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Livestock data is key for action 

In general, data and evidence around livestock are disparate and scarce. We need better data to understand the trade-offs and interactions between livestock, environment and society. We need better data on livestock management practices that contribute positively to the SDGs. And we need better data to track the progress in attaining the goals. 

Livestock partnerships for progress 

The livestock sector is made up of a diverse array of key players, for example North African pastoralists, Indian dairy processors, non-governmental organisations working with farmers, vaccine development companies, genomics researchers, government policy makers and philanthropical foundations. Goal 17 highlights that the SDGs cannot be achieved without effective partnerships. To this end, the livestock sector has the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, which brings together a broad array livestock stakeholders committed to the sustainable development of the sector. Meanwhile the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) community of practise brings together key players to work on data-driven solutions to pressing challenge, and support better-informed decision making.

Want more data and evidence?

You can also explore by themes that align with the SDGs. Your suggestions on resources or data to promote are always welcome - please get in touch.

Gareth Salmon is a Researcher with SEBI - Supporting Evidence Based Interventions. Vanessa Meadu is the Communications and Knowledge Exchange Specialist for with SEBI. SEBI facilitates the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) Community of Practice and manages 

Header photo: ILRI/ Karen Marshall (source)