Livestock background paper for World Development Report 2010: Development in a changing climate

Household takes refuge from the rain in central Malawi

Household takes refuge from the rain in central Malawi (photo by ILRI/Mann).

A paper on livestock and climate change—'The inter-linkages between rapid growth in livestock production, climate change, and the impacts on water resources, land use, and deforestation'—was prepared as a background paper to the World Bank’s acclaimed World Development Report 2010: Development in a Changing Climate. It was written by two agricultural systems analysts at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Philip Thornton and Mario Herrero.

The following is the abstract to the paper.

'Livestock systems globally are changing rapidly in response to human population growth, urbanization, and growing incomes. This paper discusses the linkages between burgeoning demand for livestock products, growth in livestock production, and the impacts this may have on natural resources, and how these may both affect and be affected by climate change in the coming decades.

'Water and land scarcity will increasingly have the potential to constrain food production growth, with adverse impacts on food security and human well-being. Climate change will exacerbate many of these trends, with direct effects on agricultural yields, water availability, and production risk.

'In the transition to a carbon-constrained economy, livestock systems will have a key role to play in mitigating future emissions. At the same time, appropriate pricing of greenhouse gas emissions will modify livestock production costs and patterns. Health and ethical considerations can also be expected to play an increasing role in modifying consumption patterns of livestock products, particularly in more developed countries.

'Livestock systems are heterogeneous, and a highly differentiated approach needs to be taken to assessing impacts and options, particularly as they affect the resource-poor and those vulnerable to global change. Development of comprehensive frameworks that can be used for assessing impacts and analyzing trade-offs at both local and regional levels is needed for identifying and targeting production practices and policies that are locally appropriate and can contribute to environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, and economic development.'

About the World Development Report 2010:
'Today's enormous development challenges are complicated by the reality of climate change─the two are inextricably linked and together demand immediate attention. Climate change threatens all countries, but particularly developing ones. Understanding what climate change means for development policy is the central aim of the World Development Report 2010.

'Estimates are that developing countries would bear some 75 to 80 percent of the costs of anticipated damages caused by the changing climate. Developing countries simply cannot afford to ignore climate change, nor can they focus on adaptation alone. So action to reduce vulnerability and lay the groundwork for a transition to low-carbon growth paths is imperative.

'The World Development Report 2010 explores how public policy can change to better help people cope with new or worsened risks, how land and water management must adapt to better protect a threatened natural environment while feeding an expanding and more prosperous population, and how energy systems will need to be transformed.

'The authors examine how to integrate development realities into climate policy─in international agreements, in instruments to generate carbon finance, and in steps to promote innovation and the diffusion of new technologies.

'The World Development Report 2010 is an urgent call for action, both for developing countries who are striving to ensure policies are adapted to the realities and dangers of a hotter planet, and for high-income countries who need to undertake ambitious mitigation while supporting developing countries efforts.

'The authors argue that a climate-smart world is within reach if we act now to tackle the substantial inertia in the climate, in infrastructure, and in behaviors and institutions; if we act together to reconcile needed growth with prudent and affordable development choices; and if we act differently by investing in the needed energy revolution and taking the steps required to adapt to a rapidly changing planet.'

Read more of ILRI livestock background paper: World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 'The inter-linkages between rapid growth in livestock production, climate change, and the impacts on water resources, land use, and deforestation', 2010, by Philip Thornton and Mario Herrero.

ILRI hosts consultations on World Development Report 2008

ILRI's director general opens a two-day consultation on the World Development Report 2008.

The theme of the 2008 World Development Report is Agriculture for Development. ILRI and the World Bank are hosting a two-day consultation, starting 13 November 2006, to inform this flagship policy publication, by discussing key issues and challenges that confront agriculture and how it can be the real engine for development.

The World Development Report (WDR) is the annual flagship development policy publication of the World Bank which serves as an invaluable guide to the economic, social and environmental state of the world today and is widely read by the broader development community. As the last WDR dedicated to agriculture was produced over two decades ago (WDR 1982), the 2008 report offers a major opportunity to provide new thinking on agriculture for development. The 2008 report seeks to assess where, when and how agriculture can be effective instruments for economic development, especially development that favours the poor.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is one of many players in this consultative process that will set the stage for World Development Report 2008.  ILRI and the World Bank are hosting a two-day consultation at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya (13-14 November 2006). The WDR 2008 aims to explore pathways out of rural poverty and how to make these pathways more effective through rational public policies directed to agriculture. Consultation participants include academics, researchers, development practitioners, policy-and decision-makers, donors organizations, government, NGOs and the private sector.

ILRI’s role in agriculture for development
World demand for food is expected to double within the next 50 years, while the natural resources that sustain agriculture will become increasingly scarce, degraded and vulnerable to the effects of the climate change. The potential of livestock to reduce poverty is big. Livestock contributes to livelihoods of more than two-thirds of the world’s rural poor, and it can be an important lever for reducing poverty and boosting the economy in developing countries, a priority of WDR 2008.

In 2002, ILRI revised its strategy to focus its livestock research efforts on poverty reduction. ILRI and its partners maintain strength in the mixed crop-livestock system practised by poor livestock keepers. In view of an ongoing using increase in demand for livestock products in developing world, a shift to more work with peri-urban and landless systems is proposed.

Livestock—A Pathway out of Poverty: ILRI’s Strategy to 2010

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development

Growth in agriculture makes a disproportionately positive contribution to reducing poverty. More than half of the population in developing countries lives in rural areas, where poverty is most extreme. By illuminating the links between agriculture, economic growth, and poverty reduction, this report offers a timely and nuanced assessment of how and where agriculture can best foster development.
                                 – François Bourguignon, Sr. Vice President, Chief Economist, The World Bank

The World Bank recognizes that ‘a reconsideration of agriculture’s role in development has been long overdue. Developing-country agriculture is caught up in the far-reaching changes brought by globalization, the advent of highly sophisticated and integrated supply chains, innovation in information technology and biosciences, and broad institutional changes—especially in the role of the state and in modes of governance and organization.’

Publication of WDR 2008 is expected in September 2007. In the meantime, the WDR 2008 website will contain the report outline, various drafts, and information on the consultations.
Detailed information about World Development Report 2008 and the team preparing it are available at the link below:

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Developement

Click here to view the presentation given by ILRI's director general Dr. Carlos Seré, during the opening of the two-day consultation.