ADDIS ABABA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The 7th multi-stakeholder partnership meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock kicked off on Monday in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
The four-day meeting, which attracted more than 250 livestock specialists from 50 countries, aims to strengthen the role of livestock in supporting livelihoods, producing safe food and protecting the environment.
It focuses on demonstrating the positive contribution of livestock to the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the world, and fostering the sustainable development of the rapidly growing sector.
In his opening remarks, Fritz Schneider, chair of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, noted that the meeting provides livestock specialists with the tools and knowledge to make inroads in realizing the potential of the sector.
"We recognize that for livestock to be sustainable, the sector worldwide needs to respond to the growing demand, enhance its contribution to food nutrition security and address its potential impacts on human, animal, and environmental health and welfare," he said.
Driven by population and economic growth, particularly in low-middle economies, the demand for livestock products is expected to increase by 70 percent in the coming 30 years, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its partners.
As the African economy in the next 20 to 30 years is expected to continue to grow fast, meat, egg and dairy consumption at household level will significantly increase on the continent, which in turn provides opportunity for the growth of livestock sector, but also poses challenges for public health and environmental protection, the FAO said.
In collaboration with its partners, the FAO earlier this year launched a project dubbed Africa Sustainable Livestock 2050 (ASL2050), toward sustainable and productive livestock on the African continent.
Wang Ren, assistant director general of FAO Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, said the FAO promotes better recognition of the economic, social and environmental benefits of livestock.
"Livestock help in our fight to end hunger and poverty, as well as to improve food security, and nutrition and health," he said. "Farmed and herded animals can support peace and gender equity."
"Livestock can also help address environmental issues, from land degradation and biodiversity loss to climate change mitigation," he added.
Officially opening the meeting, Ethiopian Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Fekadu Beyene, said the success of livestock sector is critical to achieving food security, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability at different levels.
"Beyond its impact on rural people, the anticipated transformation of the livestock sector holds huge potential to impact positively on urban populations through reductions in food prices and increases in the supply, as well as growing availability of employment opportunities in livestock-related sectors," he said.
The meeting in Addis Ababa also shares and discusses progress made in the development of tools and models to monitor sustainable livestock sector development.
It is also convened with the objective of identifying opportunities and challenges in ensuring multiple benefits of sustainable livestock development.
Emphasizing on the multiple benefits of livestock, Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute, said livestock also directly contribute to crop production and form part of the essential livelihood strategies and new opportunities for hundreds of millions globally.