Article originally published 30 November, updated 12 December, 2023
Australia promoted our climate-smart agriculture practices and commitment to climate action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28 in Dubai.
As a large food producing nation, with a variable climate, Australia has experienced many climate related events that have impacted our agriculture sector.
The Australian Government is working closely with the agriculture sector to reduce emissions, adapt practices, develop new income streams, and ensure Australia’s long-term agricultural productivity and food and fibre security.
Sharing these insights through our attendance at COP28 demonstrates Australia’s commitment to climate action and conveys to an international audience the value of evidence-based policy, research and innovation.
To further demonstrate our commitment to climate action Australia has endorsed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action at COP28. The declaration recognises the linkages between agriculture, food systems and climate change and gives Australia a platform to pursue international action on sustainable agriculture and climate change through participation of the initiative.
A no one-size-fits-all approach is vital to sustainable agriculture — we need to encourage practices that are tailored to the ecological, cultural and economic conditions of each economy.
We are privileged to showcase Australian examples of climate-smart agricultural innovation in the Australian pavilion and facilitate partnerships with Australian industry to demonstrate our world-leading practices and credentials.
December 10 was Food, Agriculture and Water Day, with many thematic events taking place in the Australian Pavilion at COP28.
Sustainability Frameworks: Demonstrating agriculture's ability to produce food and fibre sustainably
Agricultural producers care for their land and have been practising sustainable land management and farming techniques for centuries.
With a changing climate, increased international action and focused attention on sustainable production, there is a greater need to be able to demonstrate these practices and articulate them in a transparent and traceable system.
Industry led sustainability frameworks will be an important tool for producers to demonstrate these climate and sustainability credentials to their international trading partners and customers.
Co-hosted with the National Farmers' Federation, this panel brought together international leaders to explore the use of these frameworks in agriculture and how they are being implemented to support climate-smart sustainable agriculture outcomes.
- Sue Ogilvy, Program Director, Farming for the Future
- Su McCluskey, Australian Government Special Representative for Australian Agriculture
- David Jochinke, President, National Farmers Federation
- Keith Currie, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
- Agide Eduardo Meneguette — Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock
Watch the panel discussion
Sustainability frameworks, demonstrating agriculture’s ability to produce food and fibre sustainably
So, this is a panel event that I'd like to welcome you all to. It's proudly and jointly hosted by the national Farmers Federation and the Department of Agriculture fisheries and Forestry. We're here in the Australian Pavilion on food Agriculture and water day.
I'm Sue Ogilvy from Farming for the Future I'll be facilitating today's session.
I lead the farming for the future program which is a public interest research and change program that aims to provide the evidence base tools and resources for the agriculture sector to understand the relationship between differences in natural capital and differences in farm business performance and farmer family well-being.
So, I'd like to begin today by welcoming the traditional owners of the land on the which we meet today I'd also like to pay my respect to elders past present and emerging and I extend that respect to the indigenous peoples from across the world so this morning we'll here be hearing from some leading experts on the use of the sustainability frameworks in agriculture. How they're being implemented to support climate smart sustainable agriculture outcomes and we're going to be talking about learning and understanding the development and importance of these frameworks to facilitate greater adoption and acceptance for shared global outcomes.
So, I'll now introduce you to the panel members who are very grateful to for joining us in the pavilion.
Sue McCluskey is the Australian is Australian government's special representative for Australian agriculture. She's tasked with demonstrating Australia sustainability credentials and she advocates for the important role of science and risk-based decision making while recognising that there's no one-size-fits-all to the approach to meeting these global challenges. Sue also runs a beef cattle farm in Yas.
David Jochinke is the recently addressed elected new president for the National Farmers Federation and that's after serving as a director and vice president for a number of years. David is a third-generation live grain and livestock farmer from northwest Victoria.
Keith Currie is the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture before coming CFA president in 2023. Keith served on the CFA board for several years and was elected as the organization's first vice president in 2019. Keith is the eighth generation on the family farm operation.
And finally, I welcome to the stage, Agide Meneguette from the Brazilian Agriculture and Livestock Confederation. He's an experienced professional. Has worked for 15 years in companies from different SE sectors and segments including national, multinational and governmental and Agri business.
So, I'll now invite Sue McCluskey to provide some opening remarks setting to the setting the scene. So, she'll provide an opening presentation on the global sustainability requirements and how sustainability needs to be outcome focused and not prescriptive. Thank you, Sue.
So, I'm going to give you just a bit of an overview about my role and sustainability frameworks and if you didn't know that we've designed this especially with background music and noise from the coffee cube.
So, first a bit about my role because I think it's important being here at COP. I am a government appointment but I'm an industry voice and very much what we've heard at COP is initiatives need to be farmer lead and I'm a farmer myself. So that's what really makes the difference in this role. New Zealand's the only other country that has a role similar with an industry voice but as a global representative really. And certainly, what I found in the first year of my role and then coming into this year was everything was about sustainability. It was sustainability, sustainability, sustainability. And so, what I've been doing is talking about Australia's sustainability. What we're doing in agriculture on a global stage meeting and speaking with like-minded countries like the Latins like the Canadians, the New Zealanders and others and saying how do we actually get together, collaborate globally. And that's another message that has really very much come out of this COP.
So, one of the challenges we're finding when it comes to sustainability is really when it comes to trade. Trade and Market access. And of course, the challenges are really coming from the EU. So, the key driver from the EU has been the power of the NGOs. Really what we've seen around the social license to operate and that's driven the push around where the EU's gone on its Farm to Fork deal. Around what we've seen in terms of the EU legislation. What we've seen in terms of sustainability and where their subsides have been going. And in in the EU, they've actually been looking at their subsidies being changing from production to environmental outcomes.
I have to say I'm a bit cynical about this, I tend to call it out it's greenwashing because in the EU they haven't got a lot of the data, the measurement and the evidence that actually backs it up. So, one of the things I do in my role is come back to Australia and say, we as Australian farmers and Australian agriculture need to make sure that we've got the data and the evidence. Because we're going to be asked more and more to demonstrate our claims to sustainability. And we have to be able to demonstrate that with data and evidence. As well as being able to tell our story better in global markets. So, one of the things I say, because what we're finding coming from the EU is a very prescriptive, and ideological approach is that we've got to have there's no one-size-fits-all. We have very diverse environments climatic conditions. Not just across Australia but across many places in the world. Different farming production systems, different industry sectors, different focuses. We have small holder farmers in a lot of the developing countries we have some large farms in other places so there can't be one-size-fits-all. We've got to take a principle and outcomes based approach and we've got to be able to allow the flexibility to be able to aim for that. So that we can actually make it fit for purpose. For the agricultural specifics that live in each different country we've also got to have what we call place-based solutions. So that's very local solutions and that comes back to having to make sure that farmers are really part of this. When we talk about food security it is actually a distribution issue. I've been quite surprised when I engage in the EU and they say to me we don't have a food security problem, we've got enough food in Europe to feed Europe we got to think globally there's not enough food in the world and it's not just about the amount of food. It's about nutrition and making sure we actually can get good nutrition as well as the amount of food.
So, food security needs to be a broader discussion. We need to be talking about land use and what are the differences. You know, the challenges and the balances with that. So, there's a lot of challenges when it comes to sustainability.
So, what we have in Australia is the Australian agricultural sustainability framework. Now this is an overarching framework that has been developed, led by the National Farmers Federation. And what I like about this is I can put this slide up in global markets it articulates very clearly what Australia is doing around sustainability.
There are 17 principles. But importantly they go across economic, social and environmental factors. And that's really important. Because you don't just focus on environmental outcomes without having social consequences as well. So, when we talk in the broader ESG context, it's really important that we can look at this. Underneath that whole sustainability framework, sit individual industry frameworks such as the beef sustainability framework, the sheep sustainability framework, the dairy sustainability framework. Once again with that theme of not one-size-fits-all.
Those industry sector frameworks actually then start to look at what's the pathway and the implementation for sustainability for each of those industry sectors. And this framework actually aligns with the SDGs. So, it speaks the global language.
We also need to actually think about how we demonstrate our credentials, and you know there's two key things. One is the diversity of our land mass, but also in Australia, farmers are not subsidised which once again I hadn't realised until I started speaking on global stages. Most farmers in the rest of the world are actually subsidised and many quite heavily subsidised. And particularly in the EU and the US.
So, our bureau of agricultural research has actually put out a report recently which looks at those two key factors. The diversity of the environment and the subsidies. And they've picked up on the FAO's data and they've adjusted it for those two key factors. Because one of the things I kept getting hit with when I was speaking at the WTO or speaking in the EU was Australian farmers use a huge amount of pesticides and a huge amount of chemicals. And I said “no we don't, we're not subsidised I'm a farmer why would I spend any more on chemicals and pesticides than I need to?”. This report actually is a great one for me to use because it clearly demonstrates that when you adjust for those factors, Australian agriculture actually has a very low use of pesticides, low use of chemicals, low use of fertilizers. We do a lot around afforestation. With our tree planting and our initiatives around that. We do a lot around biodiversity. So, this is a great report that I find that is really useful in terms of being able to demonstrate our sustainability credentials.
So, we've got to be honest though, we've got more work to do. And a lot more of that work is really going to be around the data collection and the reporting. And there are a couple of key things that are happening now both in Australia and globally that will make a difference to that.
The first is we have our reporting. Climate related finance reporting that will come in for our large corporates from one July next year. For those corporates in the agricultural supply chain, that means when they're going to look at reporting on their emissions, they're going to need the data from farmers because that's what we call the scope three emissions. And so, we're starting to see in some supply chains, those corporates actually paying farmers to gather their data.
We also, which has been very interesting with some of the conversations I've had here, is the use of satellite imagery and other data collection methods that mean that farmers don't necessarily have to gather the data themselves. They actually can draw on publicly available data and be able to report it. So that's certainly going to make it much easier because farmers are always going to look for a value proposition. So I think clearly there are a couple of areas that we're going to need to be working on but what we need to do is make sure we continue with that message. That sustainability is here to stay. Agricultural sustainability in terms of meeting our climate challenges of what's going to be here. We're doing a lot of work around evidence and data and demonstration. And in the end, we need to collaborate and tell our story better.
Thank you I'll leave it there and I look forward to the panel discussion.
Thank you very much Sue. I would like to pose a series of questions to the panel building from the points that Sue's made. So, starting with you, David. Sue's spoken a lot about data and evidence the need for that. She's also talked about the need for flexibility and not and not having a one-size-fits-all. So, from the National Farmers Federation perspective, how do you see Australia addressing those challenges?
Well first of all, Sue did a really good presentation as far as why we're having this discussion in the first place. Which is what we have to frame both the information we're trying to gather and the purpose for what we're trying to achieve. But when we put my farmer hat on, I've got to tell you it's really hard to take the concept of why do we need to identify, or get credentials for, something I've been doing intrinsically in my farming operation. Why do I have to explain this because surely the proof is in the pudding. I've got a high-quality product we've got global demand for it and shouldn't that be enough?
So, with my farmer hat on, it's always a challenge to articulate the rationale of why do we need this in the first place? But to the data question. Agriculture is a data rich sector. We generate data as soon as we put our boots on in the morning, and as soon as we hit the key on any of our machinery.
We are very data rich. It's actually then using that data, in a way, that we can create credentials from it. So, if it's everything from the amount of diesel that we put through our machinery, to exactly where we're putting our inputs from the amount of satellite imagery, and information that third parties are gathering from us, let alone what we are generating ourselves, to use that as a collective to create the base evidence of why are we or how are we managing our land, how are we managing our inputs, what is what are our animals doing, where are they and how much, how quickly are we either turning them off, or how much are they consuming.
We have got so much measurement data out there, it is a matter of us just identifying both the gaps that we don't have, and then secondly with the data that we do have, how do we fit that into what Sue described as the global language of what the sustainability framework is? And that is the ESG or your triple bottom line or whichever frame that you want to look at through. That's where the sustainability framework that we talk about actually gives us some order. Both in the industry sectors but also as the
the farming community to go - well we've got that data point; it actually satisfies what are those credentials that we're trying to describe.
That's fabulous. And what a what a wonderfully optimistic story. Keith, is it the same in the US? Are you a data rich sector that just needs a framework to then be able to summarise and report what are the issues for the US? Sorry, Canada.
Canada and the US, certainly, even though there's a border between us, we are very very similar in what's going on. With the exception of that I think the US actually has a lot more data than we do. We're not really sure how much data we have because nobody wants to share. That tends to be the big problem. Even within government different government, departments they don't share with each other. So getting that data and getting them to understand the important need of that data, to drive sustainability forward, I think is really key. And you know farmers in Canada, I'm sure it's similar in Australia, really struggled in the beginning around sustainability because what does sustainability mean? I mean, we know what we think it means and for most people outside of agriculture sustainability is purely environment. And that's okay, but if we don't have the economic sustainability piece in there, the rest of it doesn't matter. You know we can't carry on doing our businesses as well as we need to if the economics aren't there. So data is available in peace meal but it's not it's not aggregated yet. Not readily available like we need to have to drive things forward.
That's fabulous. Is it the same situation in Brazil? Same issues? data and you've got data. But how do you organise it? It's not just environment, it's economic and social. Is that also seen in Brazil?
She's going to translate into English for me okay so it's going to be easier for us if I'm speaking my language.
In Brazil, we have a lot of information just as the data and information processing just as in Australia and in the US, in Canada actually.
We have a very consistent forest cold. Very rigorous environmental laws. 28% of the land in Brazil is suitable for agriculture use. About 78% of our land is preservation and conservation areas as well. The rural agriculture producer has a lot of information concerning the land the land use and all the regulations and legislations accordingly.
With this information we're able to improve our efficiency and production in World level, world level ways. I’m sorry because the song is getting inside. So, the world today is questioning how agriculture can be sustainable. Agriculture itself is sustainability and can be the solution for all the climate issues that we have.
So, Sue, we've heard from Australia, Canada, and now Brazil with their perspective on what seems to be a very optimistic story about reporting on sustainability outcomes. So, what comments would you have to these countries and to you the message?
Thanks Sue, I want to pick up on that first question you asked which was why does data matter? And I'm going to take DJ's approach and say as a farmer myself, why does it matter? I mean I know I want the data for myself, and I know that what I've been doing on my land has been more sustainable over the decades because I say if I don't look after my soil and I don't look after my countries, I won't have healthy animals I won't get the money, I don't get subsidized and it won't be there for the next Generation. But what I'm seeing in my role is globally we are not recognised for this. So we need to tell our story better and we need to tell our story in ways we need to tell our story that is backed up by the data. And that's why the data is important because when we get challenged with; “that's not true”, “we don't believe you”, “you use more chemicals than us”, we can say no here's the proof point and that's the data that's come from on farm. But secondly, we got to put the emotion over it because that's what's coming from the NGOs in other countries and that's what's influencing where other policies are going, that are actually influencing global standards and rules. So, we need that data to be able to provide the evidence base and we need to tell our story better.
And so, are you suggesting then, and I'd like the opinion of the panel on this, that what we're looking for is to place farmers at a point where they're at the center of the conversation, actually shaping the future of environmental performance reporting? Economic sustainability reporting, social sustainability reporting.
Keith, in Canada, is that the sort of thing that you’re looking for? When we think about the Emirates Declaration, you know of around agriculture, and we think about the sustainable reporting frameworks, are we actually looking to put farmers kind of in, in an empowered position to be shaping the future of this data and collaboration?
Well, I think if you look at what's happened over the past week, 10 days here, you know agriculture and food systems have taken a real leading role in a lot of the conversations and I think for those of us in the farming world, we really welcome that. It's been a long time coming but as we go forward, and I've had several conversations in the last few days about not wanting to get put in a place where we're recognised. I want to be in the place where they look at us and say wow, we know we have to catch up to agriculture. And that's not on governments, ENGOs or society to put on us. It's on us to put ourselves there and make them come along. Right now, I mean as a farmer and as a person I'm really good at reacting you know to whatever is coming down the pipeline. And we, because elected governments
tend to ride on this societal emotional roller coaster all the time in their decision- making that usually turns out wrong or bad. In the end, even if it's a best intended initiative it always turns out bad. There's a lot of peace-meaning going on that a lot of confusing parts for farmers to try and figure out how to put it together. So, I think we need to take the lead, as much as I agree with you Sue, that we need to tell our story. But when we're less than 2% of the population, that becomes difficult on figuring out how we do that; tell that story. But what if we don't tell the story, we show the story? Right? We be the example. We figure out a plan for 2050 and beyond and we drive there because a lot of the huffing and puffing that goes on in conferences like this about grandstanding, about showing off. We're going to do a target but then they never get there.
But I think if we systematically take a systematically approach to a long-term vision on where agriculture wants to be, we can fill in a bunch of the sustainability programs within each other's country to make that work. I think we'll get there.
That’s a fabulous vision and I'd like to throw in my next question then to build on that to DJ. So, Australia has actually established a couple of really important visions for agriculture. $100 billion by 2030. We've got some carbon neutral positions from Meat and Livestock Australia, and we've got the development of the Australian agricultural sustainability framework in which you've actually tried to set that pace. So, would you like to expand a little bit more? On how effective that's being in demonstrating and showing what we can do in agriculture?
I guess picking up from Keith's point, we are what 2-3% of the population? So, telling that story or providing that evidence, we need supporters to do that. The really awesome part is 100% of people eat. It's kind of a nice thing, that you kind of need to do that. The part is then the province story. The ability to have your coffee and your milk. To actually understand where that comes from.
The more consumers pay for their food, the more they are engaged. And that is one of the byproducts of the way that the world is going. We've actually got more engaged consumers than we ever have before. And I think that that's a good thing, because once again agriculture has already got the story um it's how we articulate that and providing evidence not to just say that we are doing the right thing.
And I really pick up the point of, even though you've got the processes in place, we are inflicted by a perception / conundrum that farmers were once Old McDonald and they had a pig and they had whatever and had to break that Nexus of going; “actually no, we are doing some really great environmental things, some really great, production systems, some really great environmental stewardship”. But that doesn't come up in the old McDonald's song. That doesn't come up in in the stereotype of a straw hat or whatever we wear, or whatever we do. Like farmers don't usually wear a suit or sorry Keith, I don't know what kind of farm you run by the way. Maybe I'm going to get into your business.
The real point is though, without having the ability or using the language, or using the words, or having something to give us evidence, we just don't want to be noise. We want to be serious about the outcome and when somebody pops the hood on us because we've asked them to pay an extra percentage on their food, when we've asked them to understand our environmental credentials, when they popped the lid on that, we want to make sure that we're backing up our words with action. We don't want to be another industry that just is empty promises or has targets that mean nothing.
Fabulous. Building then on the point that DJ's just made and your points earlier about the amount of conservation in Brazil that's associated with agriculture and the increasing frameworks and regulation, what would you say to how we get that message out that agriculture can be part of the solution?
Yesterday we talked with DJ about this a lot, and he understands that farmers and food producers, and producers all over the world, they unite in the same purpose. They should unite in the same purpose and should align the narrative of being the solution to decarbonisation. Not the problem but the solution for decarbonisation and for climate challenges. So again, he understands that creating a global platform where we can gather all the information that we have and unite the narrative, that's the key to getting our message out. In Brazil we have the ABC plan, which is a plan for low carbon production. Yeah so, we have also have the plan for a direct cropping as well. They also have forest agriculture systems with low carbon production. We have biogas and biomethane and hydrogen productions connected to agriculture. We have also the ethanol production systems that produce sugar, and alcohol, and Ethanol, and biogas, biomethane and biomass as well. Again, the agribusiness is the solution for decarbonisation and we should be united in that narrative.
Thank you. That's fabulous and so you've painted a picture of agriculture. Not only producing food but also energy in some ways and decarbonising rapidly.
Now I'd like to switch gears a little bit. Sue mentioned in her opening remarks the question of subsidies and commented that Australian agriculture is not subsidised but many agricultural sectors around the world are subsidised. When we're talking about potentially what Agide has just spoken about, a global platform for sustainability reporting, having some common standards for showcasing the environmental and economic performance of agriculture, is there a danger that we might actually have perverse market outcomes? Is there a danger that we could actually do something inadvertent which might really change market structures not to the advantage of economics. Would any of you like to address that question?
Yes, getting back to my earlier comment about leading and instead of having somebody write the road map for us, we write our own our own journey. And I think that's how we get out in front of the potential danger of that happening, if we allow our regulators to create that framework for us. And it really should be a partnership at the end of the day you know. We do require regulatory framework, that's a necessary evil that we have to have, but sometimes it chokes us if it's not done correctly. So, engaging with a respective government to make sure that we are looked at, and seen as, and used as a partner in this whole process, I think is the way to go. And we can, personally I can, take a lot away from the past 10 days here. Some encouragement that, there's recognition that they do need to talk to us. So now when we go back home collectively, we do two things we work with our governments, but we also make sure that we keep talking to each other as farm organisations. As I was saying before, the best thing we do is steal from each other, steal the ideas you know. The way you run a plan may be the different than the way we run it but conceptually it's the same. So how can we use each other to make sure we don't run into that danger of it going wrong. You know when you talked about subsidies, who just very quickly, you know we're battling with our next door neighbour, who's our biggest trading partner. Who generally get about 40% of their income the farmers, 40% of their income comes from the mailbox in Canada is about four that's a huge competitive disadvantage. So how do we level the playing field? We continue to farm better, but at some point, in time, we can't catch up to that 40% subsidy market.
That's fabulous. DJ would like you like to comment on that question as well?
My basketball coach used to always tell me that you've either going to lead, follow or get out of the way, and so very much like Keith has said it is about leading the conversation. Making sure that we are utilising the knowledge that we have built through our R&D and sharing that within agriculture because it's very even though we are competitors to the consumers, we actually have got so much in common that the outcomes we can produce globally together is pretty amazing. And the best part about picking up on the fact that we are cycling carbon, we are actually one of the industries, that both emit but also draw carbon out of the atmosphere, is as long as it's photosynthesis as long as we're we we're engaging in that plant system to both grow our seeds and our animals. We are actually integral to the whole solution of both feeding clothing and also managing the carbon cycles. And carbon is one of the things we're focusing on. But also when we talk about biodiversity, we talk about some other social aspects of stewardship of the fact that besides government, agriculture is the biggest stewards of the land globally. That is an awesome story to
Tell. And I agree with Keith, I don't know if it's pictures, sound, word, what we have to do. But the recognition of how much impact that agriculture has on daily life that people don't recognise.
It's not that we need a fan fair a ticket tape parade, okay maybe once a year, but the reality is we get on with doing the job. We get on. We don't necessarily look what other people have got because, to be honest, we've got to control what we can. And that is basically within the different landscape, within the different industries, and within the different constraints and resources that we have. Which is once again when we talk about sustainability frameworks, that's what it has to describe.
I can't describe a European system in an Australian context, and neither can Brazil neither can Canada or the US, we seem to be representing them today as well. But the reality is that's the mindset we have to go in we have to make sure that we understand what our part is to play, we have to understand what our constraints are and then do the best we can to both demonstrate that. Give ourselves the credentials so that the wider population have the ability to get closer to what we do.
I think that's a wonderful story and so Sue, I'd like to um I'd like to bring you back into the conversation. So, what we've heard from the Farmers Federations here from Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the US is that the farmers are ready to lead and understand the importance of leading. That they see this as actually normal part of business but actually talking about it a bit more prominently. We've seen a willingness to collaborate across jurisdictions and countries without stifling what needs to be local appropriate. So, what in your view should governments be doing to enable this to happen?
So, three points. But can I first pick up on that subsidy issue because you said subsidies, you know what are the consequences? Absolutely. Let me blunt about this. Subsidies create perverse outcomes and we've seen that around the world with high production that just gets dumped. Adverse environmental outcomes non-tariff trade barriers so you know definitely the answer to your question is yes, but we don't want to see money taken away from agriculture. We want more money in agriculture and there's nothing wrong with supporting the agricultural sector. But there are different ways you can do it. You can put that money into research and development. You can put that money into capacity building and educating farmers and developing tools to help farmers. So, there's a lot of different ways you can repurpose that money. On the question of what government should do, look as someone who's worked in regulatory reform, I've always pushed in Australia about how we need to have business more involved. And then when I started working globally, I realised that, in Australia, we have an advantage where business does have a say and farmers do have a say and we've been part of that regulatory development conversation. But I think there's been slippage around best practice policymaking that says business farmers industry need to be involved at the early policy design process. It's about co-design and that is because if you don't involve farmers in that early part, then you're not going to understand how you need to implement something. And if you can't implement that policy, you're not going to get compliance and then you're going to have all sorts of adverse consequences.
You’re going to need to think about amendments and things like that so actually makes sense to think about who are your stakeholders in terms of good policy making.
And then we also need to think about joined up government. So, the way governments work, and it's not just in Australia, is we have different portfolios, and those portfolios work on the policies of their particular portfolio. But when we think about agriculture and we think about what it touches, it touches the whole food system. It touches health, it touches safety, environment, water, energy, climate change. So, we really need to have a way that we can strategically and holistically about where we're trying to get to in terms of our climate challenges and how we actually get those government silos broken down so they can be talking to each other.
I think that's a fabulous point about joined up government and Adige has already given us a vivid picture of food energy decarbonising from agriculture. Adige, how can you be supported to help the Brazilian government join up its policies so that there's a holistic and effective solution?
Good question. That's a million-dollar question. It's a million-dollar questions for sure. It depends on the type of government we have. There was a change in government in Brazil recently. He understands that there's a bias in this government that is looking strongly at the environment, but it's doesn't have a dialogue with the agriculture industry. The CNA is doing a very strong institutional push in this government to recover the trust and to make sure they understand all the information and make sure they understand that the agribusiness is the key to decarbonising in Brazil. That's how we're going to help Brazil achieve its decarbonisation goals. Right now, the discussion has moved to a more ideological way and they have government is currently reviewing some of the codes the forest code and the land use code as well. In his opinion this brings institutional instability to producers and it's not clear how we going to make progress.
Fabulous thank you very much. Now we're getting close to the end of the session. I've been asking all of the questions. Keith would you be liking to make a comment on that point as well?
Sure. No, I was just told no actually. No when it comes to the interaction with the government in general. I think you know we've been hearing a lot about farmers need to be at the table which is absolutely correct, and I know certainly through the world farm organisation and the farmers constituency there's a big push to make sure we're at the table. But we have to be ready for the danger of that. And what I mean by that is we got to be prepared for when we do get to the table. Because getting there is one thing but not being prepared to actually make a difference, when you're there could be problematic as well. So, we owe it to ourselves as organisational leaders to make sure whatever farmers, we have at the table, are ready, to send our message properly and I'm not sure that we're doing a good enough job in a lot of areas of making sure that our folks are prepared when the government does say, or an organ, a governing body does, say come to the table. I just want to throw that in.
I think that that's an excellent point. Not to talk that's our problem.
Oh, we can talk, we just, the struggle is we don't always know how to present what we know right. How do we how do we take farmer speak and get it into government speak and how do we collaborate that way that. That sometimes is a struggle.
So, my pitch at COP this week has been other countries need to think about a role like mine because I have to say that my role has been a way that we've been able to get the farmer voice at the table in really high-level meetings globally as well as nationally. And I've made a big pitch for Canada and the US to come up with this role.
I represent both.
So, I would like to ask the audience, we are getting close to time, I'd like to ask the audience if there are any burning questions that you would like to ask the panelists. So, if someone would like to leap up and ask a burning question. Otherwise, I might invite our wonderful panellists to give us some closing remarks.
I'd like to start with you Agide. Would, given the conversation that we've covered terms of outcomes, the need for frameworks putting farmers at the center recognising that agriculture is actually one of the major solutions around decarbonising and nature positive activity on the planet. And the point that's just been made about farmers are good at producing but maybe not at talking about how they produce. Would you like to give us some closing remarks from Brazil?
He says he's going to be repetitive, but we need to align and build up our narrative. And tell the world that the agriculture the agribusiness is doing its part. Is agribusiness is the only one that actually preserves. While the industry and the other sector industrial sectors they can only reduce but agriculture can actually produce. The governments need to think of subsidies and how to support local producing. Yeah okay. There's a plan in Brazil called PSA. So, the government should improve this this type of program that's like a payment for ambiental service. So that's if they do this for the smaller farmers, it's going to increase the income and doing more for the for the environment.
So, we do a lot but in the other part some regulations and governments they don't look this way. They look that way, that the agribusiness, the agricultures, the farmers and the producers of corn, wheat, meat. We are not the valent. We are the persons that are really thinking all the time about the Earth, the environment, the climate - it's going to rain. It's not going to rain? Because every day we need to wake up go to our properties to our farms and do our work, our hard work. It is not in the air conditioner it's not 50 suits every day besides you are every day but that's our real life.
So, people are just taking some notes and they put that at the reality for entire world and but that's not correct. That's not true. Everybody must go to a farm and see how hard it is to wake up every single morning 5:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. to 22 p.m. to do our work. No vacation. On wrong days to do what we have to do and when you walk around and see people say no the farmers are called for doing the bad things to their climate into the world. I look these people and say have you been to a farm? I know. Do you know what I call? Do you have any idea from where milk comes from? Where the lettuce come from? The tomatoes come from? Do you know how hard it is to put food on table? And we are the people who's going to saving the world for starvation and people don't see that. So, we believe, I truly believe that there is no other way to save the planet. To save the climate changing. Without the agriculture. The first the carbonisation comes from us not from any other place. People can do cars, but they have to buy a forest. So, until people go buy a forest. Until people go to plant some plants and say, “no I'm carbon free”. Show me that you are carbon free. I want to see that. They put C ban on us, or I mean Brazil has to pay the C ban, the European UN does that. So, show me where can I see the first in Europe, I've been there they plant near to the rivers in Brazil it's impossible to do that so the world must look for the farmers and where we are the regulations and see who is doing his work and who is not. Of course, there's someone that's not doing right but most of us are doing. But our lack of communication to show this to the world is punishing us. That's my message thank you very much.
Keith, speaking on behalf of Canada and possibly also the US, would you like to make a closing remark?
Well, I want I want to kind of pick up on those comments a little bit and you know certainly if you look around the developed nations on average society pays about 10 to 12% of their annual income on food. Which when you when you step back and you think about it, it's not very much for something that you eat every day. And some of the battles that we're dealing with right now, and you touched on it early in the conversation, about the expectation of having that food there it's because we've delivered since the beginning of time high quality, cheap food and now it's become an expectation. It's not society's fault. And you know, you just heard the emotion and trying to get out our message that we work hard and we're not trying to kill you. You know, working 80 hours a week to try and kill you with the products we grow. But the reality is when you look at society, you've got a couple with three kids, who are working two jobs, and have three mortgages, and drive a crappy car, and their kids are screaming in the back of the van, they don't want to hear our struggles. They got their own so how do we turn that conversation around to show them that there's value for them in what we are doing and helping to provide to them. And I know that sounds easy but it's not. We have to think in that context you know. When I'm doing this role around advocacy, I always try at least to enter in a room, or a conversation prepared to change my mind. It doesn't mean I will, but I'm prepared to change my mind depending on what I hear. So, I think we need to take that concept going forward on how we sell the business of agriculture to society and I'm again I'm not saying that that's an easy thing to do. But I think the concept of how we drive this forward is something we really need to really need to pitch. Maybe we need to somehow figure out how to sponsor Taylor Swift's World Tour you know that will touch society in a way we just possibly can’t as farmers. I just think we need to rethink our approach.
That's fabulous message and I would just like to make the point officially that Keith does not speak for the United States. That was my mistake at the start.
DJ speaking for National Farmers Federation, closing marks?
I'm one of those annoying people on public transport that talk to the person sitting next to me. And I always like to ask people what did you have for breakfast that's my that's my conversation starter. And then I go, well you had bacon, where did that come from? You had eggs? Where did that come from? You had muesli, that's awesome! How great it is that you’ve got choice, and b, that you've got an ability to understand what the food systems is. And in all my travels, I love going to those urban gardens. I love the fact that they've got those sectors where people can have a crack at growing their food. And you go there, maybe a third of them are really well-looked after and the other 2/3 have got the variety of weeds, pests and diseases that as farmers we shudder at because it's tough. It is hard to do it, it's hard to commit to the whole season of producing some corn or tomato or whatever they're having a crack at. Which is awesome that they're having a go by the way. But for me there's a few things out of this conversation. First of all, we've all got thick skin and sharp elbows that's why we're here when we have to be in this very heavily noisy space. So we have to make sure that we're doing the best we can to put ourselves forward. We've got to force our way through, in some regards. The second thing is we do need to communicate. And it is an us problem. It's not a everybody should understand a little bit more. It's an our responsibility to take ownership of that conversation and that's why we're here. But then thirdly, we've got to we've got to have that partnership. We can't do it alone. And that's why, to be quite honest, Sue's role is so important to us.
The fact that we have got some government support. The fact that government actually does understand a lot of what we do and that we have got the ability to have those conversations. We don't always agree which is absolutely fine and we can have those disagreements in the right forms. But when we do agree, when we have those partnerships, we have got linkages across nations. We should be able to use that as our strength because at the end of the day we're all doing the same thing. We all want the same outcome. But how we get there and how we organise ourselves in a very dynamic world that continually changes with iPhones and Taylor Swift, and everything else in between. To capture that imagination. To capture that bandwidth is very hard. But it's not necessary end game. The end game is to make sure that we're producing food that people enjoy and trust. And we are a trusted industry. And then try to let leverage that into the future is the challenge. I don't have the answers, by any stretch of the imagination. But we have got some really good things that we need to just build on and continue this journey. Because like everything, it's not the destination. It's not actually the journey. It's the company we keep. And by keeping good company, by having the same vision, that means we're going to go far. So, I'm really embodied to the sense that we have got a lot of positivity within our industry and the fact that we've got good relationships throughout from farmers right up to the top of government. So, for me I reckon it is a very positive place.
Thanks Sue, I'm going to be brief because I think forums such as this, what we've had at COP, we have the opportunity to collaborate to meet to share to discuss to learn. I think the one thing we can do from here particularly for those of us in leadership positions is to think about what are the clear actions we can do when we get back. So it's not about talking, it's about making it happen and I think the onus is on us to actually do that.
Fabulous. I would like to thank all of our panel members today for a very lively, very rich discussion. And for a clear show of leadership in this area.
I found it thrilling and I'm very very optimistic now about the future so thank you if I could ask the audience to give a big round of applause.
Sustainable Food Systems in a Changing Climate
Food and nutrition security, more now than ever, are critically important to feeding a growing global population. Strong, robust and resilient global food systems and value chains will be crucial for meeting this demand.
With a changing climate, how do we adapt and transform these systems to ensure they meet our current and future climate and sustainability goals and needs?
This panel brought together leading international experts to discuss and explore the impact of climate change on food security and sustainable food systems and the importance of a circular economy. Focused on Australia and the Pacific, the session was an opportunity to share knowledge and best practices and identify opportunities for sustainable food systems.
- Donna Bennett, Department Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- Su McCluskey, Australian Government Special Representative for Australian Agriculture
- Jaci Brown, Research Director, CSIRO
- Larelle McMillan, Research Director, CSIRO
- Dr Zitouni Ould-Dadam Deputy Director of the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- Alisi Tuqa, Food Systems Lead, The Pacific Community
- Hon. Ruateki Tekaiara, Minister of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development, Kiribati
Watch the panel discussion
Sustainable food systems in a changing climate
Good. Okay if everybody would like to come into the area and please move forward if sometimes a little bit noisy at the back there. So, please, I know it's very hard that a lot of people are used to sitting in the back at lecture theatres. But you know come on forward. Our panellists won't bite. Thank you.
Okay, well welcome to this morning's panel event and happy food Agriculture and water day. Yay! We've been building up for this for so long. It's day 12 of COP28 and we're very excited to be here in the Australian Pavilion to have this session. This session is going to be a very interesting session because it's all about sustainable Food systems and the climate change. Particularly focused on the Pacific and Australia. We very much appreciate our representation today from the Pacific.
My name is Donna Bennett and I'm the regional agriculture counsellor for the Middle East and North Africa, and I work for the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry. I will be facilitating today's session.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging our traditional owners on the land on which we meet today, and I pay my respects to elders past and present and also to extend the respect to indigenous people across the world.
This morning’s session will be an opportunity to discuss and explore the impact of climate change on food security and sustainable food systems and the importance of the circular economy. Focusing on Australia and the Pacific, the session will allow us to share knowledge, best practices, and identify opportunities to sustainable food systems.
I'll now introduce you to our panel members. And we're very grateful for you for joining us today. First, and probably a friend to all of us right now, well we've seen Su a lot today, and over the last 12 days Miss Su McCluskey, is the Australian government's special representative for Australian agriculture and tasked with demonstrating Australia's sustainability credentials. Su advocates for the important role of science and risk-based decision-making while recognising there is no one-size-fits-all approach to meeting those global challenges. Su also is a farmer and very proud of that. Her farm is in a place called Yas which is near Canberra, in Australia of course. Thank you, Su.
Jaci Brown from CSIRO is a climate scientist. And she is a research director for the climate intelligence program and the lead of CSIRO’s climate Science Centre. Which translates vast and complex climate information into decision ready formats and applications.
Now we're doing something a little bit different today, we've got some virtual panel members and we have Larelle McMillan from CSIRO give us a wave Larelle. Yes it's working, I love it. Larelle leads research in sustainable transitions in agri food systems in Australia and internationally and has worked across a wide range of agri food system science and policy domains.
We also have Alisi Tuqa. Give us a wave. Yes, thank you. She’s joining us from the Pacific Community and is the food systems program lead based in Sufa, Fiji. She's responsible for providing leadership and coordination of food systems, integrated program at the SPC.
And, very especially, we'd like to welcome the Honourable Ruateki Tekaiara. and I'd probably have I haven't pronounced that properly, so I do apologise. Joining us from Kiribati. And he is the Minister of environment lands and Agricultural Development. So please give our panelists a warm welcome. So very especially, I'd like to invite Dr Zitouni Ould-Dadam as FAO Deputy Director, office of climate change biodiversity and environment, to the microphone to provide opening remarks on their current global challenges to food systems and the interplay with climate change. Zitouni has 26 years of international experience working with the United Nations and the governments of the United Kingdom and France in high-profile areas including climate change, food security, energy scarcity, technology and innovation and the sustainable development goals. Dr Zitouni.
Thank you so much and good morning, everyone. Good morning your Excellency and then the panellist, dear friends, who have been meeting in so many gathering events. It's a pleasure to be here and hopefully say some few interesting facts and issues, that will help generate some discussion. And useful particularly on this day, as you said, you know, our big day on food, agriculture, and water. And it's true we've been waiting for this for a while. The energy, the moment has been building up for few years. And I think everyone involved in this, should be really proud of where we are now. It's great that we've got this global attention, now given to food and agriculture. Given to food and agriculture. And the fact that from now on, there would be a lot to do. Hopefully, in improving the agri food systems. In improving the lives of farmers and those who are most affected by climate change.
I think you probably all know the interconnection between agriculture and climate change. They so depend on each other, and they do affect each other as well. So agriculture is the most vulnerable sector to climate change. Particularly when we consider drought. Agriculture absorbs 80% of the impact of extreme weather events, specifically on drought. And at the same time agriculture gives back you know so many greenhouse gas emissions. The third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agri food systems the whole chain. From production to consumption and this linkage is important because we expect that climate change would push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. Just in the next 7 years. And in increasing the number of people at risk of hunger also by around 180 million people by 2050. We know that there is an increase in extreme weather events, drought, or hurricane, or floods and also other crisis the biodiversity crisis. The health crisis such as the COVID-19 and they all affect global food security. Scientists from all around the world, particularly the intergovernmental, on climate change. Saying this is going to get worse. Global food security will be affected and will be affected even more in the future. And that's why it's important that we look at the transformation of agri food systems and make them really fit for purpose in feeding and nourishing people. While also being environmentally friendly and using natural resources in an efficient and effective way. Particularly for agriculture in the pacific areas. It does face significant climate disasters and if you look at the losses, particularly in the period of 10 years, between 2008 and 2018, we estimated the total loss of around 108 million dollars in crop and livestock damage, just during this period. This illustrates the damage and the loss caused by extreme weather events due to climate change. So, climate change is really the foremost challenge to the pacific life and livelihoods. Manifesting in rising sea levels but also alteration of rainfall patterns, and severe cyclones, and colour bleaching. And most of the people in communities affected are small scale producers. Women, youth and other vulnerable groups in rural areas in particular. And this is why the transformation of agri food systems is crucial. Is crucial, not just in terms of food security. But also for ending poverty and fostering inclusive and economic growth and of course addressing the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis.
But this must be done in a systemic way so that we link in up various aspects related to food and agriculture. Not to look at things in isolation. We cannot look at water and biodiversity and land in isolation. All the strategies we develop particularly at government level and beyond, and action plans they have to be interconnected. Why? Because the world is like that. Things are an interconnected. And we tend to do things in isolation. But we have to break these silos if we really want to deliver multiple benefits and also deal with trade-offs. So, we don't try to fix a problem in one side and create problems somewhere else.
Another aspect that applies to this transformation is consumer behaviour. Our connection with food, our connection with land and sea, and how we need to be more aware of being more respectful to the natural resources. And how we use them, and consumer behaviour is relating to the food loss and waste as well. Because unfortunately we still throw a lot of food away third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted. And with that goes all the energy, the water, the nutrients that go into producing it. And the money of course that we use to buy food.
Renewable energy generation and energy efficiency is another aspect in relation to us, as consumers, and how we must be more efficient in the use of these resources. It's a really complex challenge but we have to look at it in this way and not in in isolation. The key message really is that agri food systems have a lot to offer in terms of solutions. And these agri food system solutions, there are also climate change solutions. And we have to turn that around so we don't talk only about problems but talk about what we can do in terms of bringing solutions to particularly vulnerable communities. In this context, and small holder farmers, so we need to coordinate and align the policies between the different sectors as I said. And have really this holistic and integrated strategies.
The other aspect I would like to finish with is finance. Particularly for farmers. For small holder farmers. There is a huge gap in financial support for agriculture and for farmers. If you look at the overall, the global climate finance, only 0.3% reaches small holder farmers. And often we talk about subsidies, and you know, redefining subsidies but that does not apply to small holder farmers. They don't receive any subsidies. And I think there are many issues here we need to think about. So that as we say in the SDG context, not to leave anyone behind, this is what it means.
I just want to finish with this point of finance. And there is the other issue, obviously of science and innovation. Perhaps Su and other colleagues, will touch on that. And I think I just want to say that for the transformation of agri food systems, we have to harness the power of science and innovation, and innovation in the broader sense. Not Innovation just in terms of technological innovation but innovation for the traditional knowledge, as well the indigenous knowledge the communities who innovate all the time to adapt to the new reality.
So thank you again for this invitation. I hope this sets the scene and apologies I have to run to another event and find my way. Thank you very much it has been a pleasure.
Thank you, Dr Zitouni. We really appreciate your insights and your time with us. I know you've been going here, there everywhere, so we really appreciate your insights and your time. Please leave at your leisure.
I'm actually going to join his excellency, because he looks a bit lonely over there so I think we need to balance the team.
We have a bit of balance. All right, so I'm going to be asking a few questions first to our panel members and then after that I'll invite some audience questions. I may have to just be a bit of a timekeeper as well, but we'll work our way through. This will be a work in progress and I'm sure there’ll be very interesting insights that we'll gain.
We've heard from Zitouni on several announces he highlighted that the nature of our food systems are changing and perhaps we jump ahead, sometimes but before we jump ahead into more detail, I think there's one fundamental question here for some of us that are thinking ‘what's a food system?’, ‘what does that mean?’. I'd like to invite a couple of panel members to give us a simple definition for our lay people here, lay persons, and I'll invite first from our virtual audience, virtual panel members, I should say. Maybe over to you Alisi, on your take on what a food system is.
Sure, I get asked that all the time through the work that I do. Good evening from Sula and nice to be on the panel this evening. I guess, for us, and for the messaging, that I you know, when people do ask what is Food systems how is that different to food security and all these other terminologies that have propped up over the year you know popped up over the years and I think Zitouni had kind already pointed to that but really just trying to say that food systems is everyone's business. Because everyone participates in everything that's related to food systems. I guess traditionally, or in the past, or in recent times, we've always looked at it as a production issue. When we look at food systems. Or it's a health crisis because people haven't been well end up in hospital because of the food they consume and the lifestyle. It's really just putting it back to people and communities that food systems is about everyone's business. That means you can participate in all sorts of activities throughout the value chain or in the in the ecosystem, if you will. It's not just about those that are producing food. It's those that are providing, supporting and periphery services to those activities. It's about employment industries and sectors within the food systems. But also it's about consumption and consumer. And all of us as consumers have you know we participate in the food systems. I think in the case of the pacific the food systems have was the work around that was really prompted by you know obviously the climate change crisis facing us. But also a Health crisis around non-communicable diseases so we also try to impress upon you know those that would listen around food systems advocacy is that we all have a vested we have an vested interest. We all have some kind of investment in it because we either we know we make decisions and choices about the food. Food we consume or relating to food activities, but we also do tend to know people who've had some health issues over the years and so that sort of makes us personally invested in that. So it's I guess it's might be different to other issues around you know that come up over the years or in our lives but I think food systems fundamentally is also about the individual as well as about the bigger community.
Thank you so much Alisi, that really says it all. It's everybody and everything. And Larelle, do you have anything to add to that?
Yeah sure. Lovely to be here. Good evening from Canberra in Australia today. I guess I would just add you know that our food systems are deeply connected systems as Alisi said. And really, the way that I sort of like to describe it, because I do too, get asked that question often, is really it's about how our food is grown. The embedded resources within our food. How food gets to us. How food is stored, processes, the kinds of foods we choose to eat. So bringing it back to that individual piece and actually the information that we use to make those choices about the food that we eat. And as Alisi said, it's also about who makes the decisions about our food systems, and whose values need to be included in those decision-making processes. So, lots of points of governance and lots of interconnected aspects that we need to inclusively navigate.
Okay, thank you. And Su, a couple of extra words on that one?
Thank you so first of all I'll pick up on something that Zitouni said, and that is we should be talking about agri food systems, to make sure we get the agriculture in there. But I like to think about the food system as being paddock to plate. So that's everything from the farmer and what the farmer needs to do around soils and water, and the environment, through the manufacturing, and processing where you bring in energy, and transport and packaging. Right through the consumer where you bring in choice, access, affordability and of course waste.
Thank you very much. I think we've all got it down the in our head now - food systems. And each of us will take a different understanding of it, but I think we've got it pretty much. You know, we're engaged with what food system is and agri food system, in particular. Now I'd like to focus a question and I'll bring in a question about focusing on the food systems as a more integrated system. How do we help. How do we tackle this with these wicked problems we're facing now. What examples or mechanisms do we have right now to enable us to nudge these systemic issues? Given we can't fix our food systems with a magic wand. Jaci, would you like to involve that question please?
Thank you so you're right. It is a wicked problem. There's not one solution and we tick this box and everything will fall into place. But at the same time there are small parts we can bite off that are, no regrets effort. So, for example we know that nearly 7.7 million tonnes of total food is wasted in Australia, every year and sent to land fill. As along with 3 million tons of post-consumer packaging. That's just horrifying and easy place to start. Oh an obvious place to start, I should say not an easy place. So, CSIRO has been trying to address that issue and look for solutions. Particularly around the sustainable and recyclable packaging and labelling. But I might pass to Larelle, who knows more about this space to add some more to that.
Sure Jaci so I think we'll come to this a little bit later in the piece, but we recently launched the national agri food systems road map and obviously you know any of these solutions or interventions, that we have, that can nudge. These systemic issues are not going to be easy and they're not going to be simple, but we need to find ways to tackle things like our food waste issue in ways that work in our context. They're very context specific and so in the Australian context, just to add to what Jaci saying, an example, I guess, of this solution space is that we're partnering with food relief sector in CSIRO and we're really trying to nudge, I guess, the systemic issue of the increasing number of food insecure people in both remote and urban regions in Australia particularly on the back of COP. We're partnering with these agencies to look at how we can connect up food loss on farm and understand and predict, through looking at climate risk, where our potential food losses are going to occur with our fresh food or where those farmers are not going to be able to meet contracted quality guidelines because of frost or heat waves. And connecting those surpluses, if you like, or food loss, on farm with our relief systems. And also connecting our logistics and transportation systems, such that we can get more of that food, that is sent to landfill, to people that need it most - highly nutritious foods. It’s really not just about the R&D that underpins that, but it's actually about the incentives as well. Some of the financial incentives that attorney mentioned and also some of the institutional arrangements I guess that we need to address to enable those connection points across the system to create some, or some nudge some, system change.
Okay thank you both. Your excellency, I'm going to ask you a question. So, recognising the importance of indigenous knowledge globally how can traditional practices and local knowledge be integrated into modern agricultural and fishery systems, to enhance resilience and sustainability.
Thank you, madam. And thank you for your nice question because we are in the pacific. We are different, local skills now in the pacific. So in my country, we have also the same context about local skills - how to fish, to get more fish in a small time, consumption of time. And how to plant a vegetable, to do the biggest and the heavy, highest heavy, we can do that in our culture. And our skills, so that's our skill. But we can utilize the skill mostly in the outer Islands because we have enough space. We have enough lands the out Islands we have enough own bush that we can plant something, and we have a large ocean we can get food from it. So in Tarawa, in the capital, the most crowded people. 49% of the population living in the capital. And we have not enough land to plant something. What we did now, we just only plant for household. Household consumption for household and at same time, the climate change, is one of our main problem. Major problem. Why in agriculture you need the soil. The good soil and the fresh water but now our ground water is salty and our soil is not fertile. That's our problem we are facing now in the capital.
Now Thailand is okay, but maybe the next 10 years the problem, what's happening in the capital will be happen in the time.
Thank you. Thank you very insightful.
Su it looks like we've lost our virtual panellists but we're getting that fixed in the background so we'll just pivot. Because that's what we're good at doing. Oh here we go, Larelle’s there that's good, and Alisi is back.
So, Alisi, did you hear the Minister's response at all?
I did, except the last few seconds.
So again, in your context on where you are in Fiji, drawing on your indigenous knowledge and how to integrate that globally. And how to share that knowledge into building sustainable systems. If you'd like to share your words of wisdom.
Well, I don't know about words of wisdom, but I'll try. No, definitely, I mean I definitely, echoed the words of the honourable minister and I think for the pacific, we've, you know, when we're trying to address food systems, we've largely focused on I guess, the not so pleasant things. You know, climate change and the convergence of crisis, if you will, health, high cost of food, and so on. But we also wanted to, I guess, shine a different light to the food systems challenges and one is that you know food is part of pacific culture and it's part of our identity. And linking on to that is indigenous food systems, traditional knowledge. The coastal food system linkages between, you know the terrestrial activities what happens on land and what happens in our waters and in the ocean. And underpinning all of that is the knowledge systems and the information systems, that have passed through generations and really and I think the keynote speaker, Zitouni, really touched on that. So, in that when we're talking about technology and innovation, it's not just the new tech that's available to us, now in technology. A lot of that for us, in the pacific, is hinged on traditional knowledge and traditional systems, and bringing that back to the four. Trying to integrate a lot of communities to use those traditional systems. It just hasn't I guess been amplified as much, but now that we're trying to bring that to more conversations, it's really gained prominence over the years. And I think that's really something for us to jp on, as we're trying to address food systems in this systematic ecosystem type way. Is really building on that. And because we're working with our communities, we're trying to focus on PPP’s, okay it's traditionally been, public private partnerships, but for us in the pacific really about people centered or people first, Private Public Partnerships, because at the heart of that is the interaction and the interface with the communities and really always be will always be there is that link to the traditional systems, in whatever may be whether it's in Fiji and I think that's really what's a great thing for us to share to the world, when we're coming to addressing the climate and food Nexus.
Thank you, Alisi. And I'd just like to reiterate you know First Nations people in Australia are very much about looking after country. That's their advocacy. That's why they're there. They're looking after country and we can all take from those very powerful words. So, Su, I'll bring you in on this - you've gone to a lot of panels and sessions over the last 12 days, and soil health came up as one of those things. I'd just like you to bring in that conversation into this food system, because it seems to be again the foundation of a good food system.
Thank you, Donna. You know it was interesting when we think of this as being food systems agriculture and water day. We actually should also say and soil day because soil health is absolutely critical. If we don't actually invest in our soil health, we won't have healthy plants, healthy animals, we won't have healthy food production systems, we won't have healthy people, in a healthy environment. It's really important we do invest in that and in Australia, of course, we do a lot of work around soil health. We've got a national soil strategy and we've just recently released the national soils action plan that is very much focused on the priorities that we need to invest in soil health. We need to make sure that we're actually prepared for what climate's throwing us. We've got the oldest soils in the world. A lot of our land in Australia, is very nutrition poor, and in fact only 6% is arable so it's really important that an investment in soil health is critical. Because it just underpins a healthy food system.
And I was just picking that up for what the minister's comments were about soil’s degradation and how we can work as a pacific partnership on sharing good technologies and innovations to help with soil. To support that traditional knowledge farming. The other thing I'd like to mention, because it is water day as well. We've just experienced some extraordinary heavy rain, in the last few days in Su’s backyard, but there's also been a cyclone up in Northern Queensland, and then we hear about some drought affected areas. And I know, Jaci, you mentioned just before, a question which is one of my extra questions. I'd like to explore how can global food systems adapt to challenges posed by climate change and what specific measures can be prioritised to enhance resilience.
Thanks, it is a really big question. And fundamentally why we're here is because the climate is changing. What does that mean? For the Australia and the Pacific, we have one of the most variable climates in the world. We have El ’Nino and La Nina and we know what it's like to deal with those. We're pretty smart we've had amazing technological advances that have kept up with those fluctuating systems. Going forward we're already thinking about what does that look like when it's exacerbated. The three past years in a row for Australia has meant a lot of rainfall and now coming into an El ‘Nino and we're not sure what that means for drought going into the future, but I would caution against looking at one aspect of climate change on the food system at a time. I think it's dangerous to say; “okay this is what heat is going to do” or “this is what extreme rainfall is going to do”. The reality is that we've seen in Australia, just this week, we've got record temperatures in New South Wales, South Australia's had two months of rainfall in 24 hours, we've got something like 80 bush fires, 26 aren't contained and then a southernly buster that came through and took roofs off. Right? That is what climate change is going to do. It's all of it together. How can we make sure our systems are resilient, as a whole of Australia system, when everything starts to fray around the edges and possibly even more concerning at an island level. When you think about the acidification damaging the reefs the sea level rise and then the cyclone comes in on top of the fisheries, that's an even bigger question. You don't look at those single issues, you look at that whole system and how are we going to be resilient to that.
Yeah, thanks Jaci. Larelle, would you like to add anything into that from the science point of view?
Yeah, sure. Probably not from the climate perspective, because that is Jaci's expertise, but Dr Zitouni explains some of the sort of changing pressures on global food systems and indeed participants, as Jaci had said across Australia's food system, are increasingly facing these new complexes and interconnected, both natural sustainability challenges, climatic challenges, but also social challenges. So I guess, just to reiterate that, we're not going to be able to address these with any one single technology focused approach, and sector kind of approaches. It's really going to require that attention to sort of the processes that enable broad and meaningful stakeholder engagement across sectors, across agencies, and within and beyond the agri food sector as well. And working through the trade-offs as Zitouni said that might need to be managed and looking at pathways where we can really feasibly and legitimately take some action.
Great, thanks Larelle. Minister, I'm going to head back to you. How can we foster an innovative mindset in agriculture that will drive that improvement and adaptation?
Thank you, madam. Because we are in the continental and our culture is our challenge. We are voicing our request to the world. Especially to our partners. How they can find the modern technology in agriculture for us so we can use some water, and we can use more fertile soil. So that we can crop something on our island, on our lands. We need more other countries to help us, in providing us with more new technology on agriculture. So that we can go ahead and we have no can face no problem for the future against climate change.
Thank you. And Alisi, any views from you on how we can foster that innovative mindset in the agriculture sector.
Coming from SPC's perspective, Food systems, I mean the members of SPC, have really impressed upon the membership in the pacific that food systems is a challenge and it's something we need to address collectively. It's a key focus area in our strategic plan so that really puts prominence on the issue and that integration that we want. It also within SPC we have created flagship. The food systems are one of four flag flagships. The other three agenda climate change and oceans. So again, showing that we're wanting to push innovation and new ways of doing things, so not business as usual. Part of using the flagship is, I think, because we're an inter-government organisation. Our constituents are the in the line Ministries and governments and we work with private sector and civil society. I think we're really looking to the flagships like the food systems. Flagship to really be able to work with civil society and private sector and the engagement and the improvement in tackling food systems. We see potential lies working with these two constituencies really closely along with academia and government.
Great, thank you. Now this is a fairly big question and probably deserves a little bit of cognitive demand. And I'm going to put Su on the spot for this. So, the interconnection between water, food and energy is crucial for sustainable development. How can we manage this Nexus effectively, to meet the growing demands for all three, especially considering the significant impact agriculture has on water resource and energy consumption. It's a big one isn't it.
Look, it's a matter of thinking strategically and holistically about this. It's a cross portfolio demand. We’ve got to think about what are the outcomes we're trying to achieve for our country, our world, our planet, not just for any one particular sector.
And we heard Zitouni and, you know Laura mentioned this too, we've got to balance those trade-offs. But we really got to be putting people at the centre of this. Because the people look after the environment. We have to look after our people. So we've got to have the input from people, but very importantly, we can't think of any one of those areas in isolation. Because we if we focus on one, we will have consequences that will be adverse for another area. Thank you.
And Larelle, anything to add for that big question?
Yeah. It's a big question absolutely. As you said, there's no sort of magic bullet and maybe if I sort of talk through the tackling of greenhouse gas emissions in our food system, that a component of that, which is obviously connected to the productivity and resilience of our systems. In Australia, our total food system emissions equate to 6.8 tonnes equivalent per person, per year. I think it's fair to say that Australia already has multi-pronged approach underway but of course there's lots more we can be doing. Things like strengthening markets for low carbon and nature positive land use, increasing our access to and availability of climate neutral foods. Which I guess implies the circularity piece that you spoke about in the intro, Donna. Reducing emissions through food loss and waste as we talked about earlier. There's a number of things we can do, and and I guess from CSIRO perspective and Australian innovation ecosystem, some of our missions are tackling that so us towards net zero mission is bringing together and convening a number of stakeholders across the innovation ecosystem in Australia to really look at in innovative ways both technology but also system. The underpinning system, institutional system processes, that that sit around to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for example.
Thank you so much. Right, now we're heading into the final 10 minutes. I'd like to open it up for questions and I see a hand up.
Hello, Chris Talent from the West Australian Parliament. Interested in your comments on the need for a reduction in reliance on animal-based proteins, livestock and the corresponding increase on plant-based proteins, alternative proteins. And how that can help us drive down emissions and also reduce the degradation of the landscape as well.
All right, the beef cattle farmer will take this question first. It's really interesting because I've been interested in the debate that I've seen globally around alternative proteins and when I was at conferences at the beginning of the year, that was what was being put. Stop eating red meat, you'll solve the climate challenges of the world. Most recently the FAO I was seeing a much more nuanced and sophisticated debate around alternative proteins, where they were splitting them into three buckets basically. Your plants, and your nuts, and your legumes, that have been around for decades, the alternative meats and then the cell based which is lab based. What they're now going to do at the FAO is actually say the things we need to be thinking about are the environmental footprint of each of those buckets and then compare that with your livestock production and the nutritional outcomes of each of those buckets. Then we've got a better comparison. But in the end it comes down to choice, access, equity and affordability. And if we think through a global lens, much of the world is actually going to continue to depend on livestock or other proteins, rather than alternatives, because they simply can't either afford them or have access to them. And so I guess my narrative is that there's a place for all, but let's get as much transparency and information out to allow people to make an informed choice, and then on the actual livestock side, what are the measures we're putting in place to actually reduce the environmental print and there's a huge amount of work being done around methane emissions. Use of seaweed asparaguses for example that is got huge gains there so put our efforts into there, recognising that there will still be a place for livestock. We need to think about the reduction in the environmental footprint from them.
Thanks Su. Any other comments from any of the panel members?
I'd probably just add a bit to Alisi’s point. Su mentioned choice, access, equity and affordability, and important to remember too, that protein sources are inextricably linked to our culture as well. Culturally, you know people choose to eat different types of protein. As Su said, there's a place for getting more accurate information around protein sources is critical.
I think it comes through informed choices and choices you know with real science behind it as well evidence-based. Any more questions from the audience? We have one at the back there?
Thank you madame. My name is Sele. I'm from Fiji, from the pacific. I represent the pacific on the indigenous people's forum on climate change. And this is a critical important issue for us in the pacific. Your excellency has shared for us in the pacific, when do we talk about soil, our grows. Soil is becoming yet silent dominant issue for us but I'm so thankful that virtually here our friends from SBC this is the issue for us for the future. We are only talking about land aggregation we really need to sink it down to soil remineralisation. What is the issue for us moving forward? And I'm so thankful also for your excellency on voicing out the issue now on innovative technology. I'm so thankful to be hearing, such data, such as 0.3% of finance is going to the small growers. That's a chilling statistic. I really want to go deeper into that. I present a question to the panel members, going back to one of your earlier questions, on innovative resilience mindset, we are not really looking at our children. When we talk about internet generational equity, we may be talking about food system, water and energy, Nexus the real one. The pacific is a youthful population and I joined us at our own forum on the issue for us to push and challenge these spaces. And I'm so thankful our colleagues from Australia, on aligning their position with us. Our indigenous knowledge system and the future of these systems are our children. Our kids so let me connect that to financing. We may be talking about organic systems, we may be talking about from what we call in Fiji to the table is food gardens, our perspective is a little bit different in the pacific. We are talking about small out grower. We're talking about our women gender development and empowerment on backyard gardening. This is the issue for us. I put it up to the panellist, what is your vision on going into that.
Thank you. Okay thank you very much and very warm welcome to you. Perhaps we can ask Alisi, if you could respond or comments.
Sure, thank you for that intervention. There are quite a few things in there. I think maybe two. I'd pick up on one is around the youth demographics and the education only because I think we haven't really touched on that. But again that's the role and the importance of looking at you know food systems in that systemic way. Is that education is definitely part and parcel of that and particularly if you look at habits, I always say when we're doing food systems work in the office and having discussions, is okay it's a bit too late for me now I'm sort of you know sitting my ways, and all that kind of thing, but really our investment needs to be with our kids our you know primary school students, high school students, and particularly if we're looking at when we're looking at climate change and food systems as you know sort of confronting crisis for the region, and if we're seeing and they both influence each other, if we're seeing that you know we're 70% of our people are dying before they reach 60 or 55 even, so that's a lot of our capacity and capability disappearing in front of our eyes. And if we're wanting to address climate change issues, which is a lot of stem science-based solutions, indigenous solutions, we need to really invest in our kids. And that means making sure that they're eating well, not in terms of just what they're putting in their mouth, but the nutritional aspect. So that's another dimension which Su, and others, have raised around the soil and it's part of that whole supply chain and value chain. But I mean just to impress upon you that yes education and the investment in kids and our youth is fundamental. That's why, I think when we are using the flagship at SPC, is when we're talking to communities, and to the countries, is making sure that young people are at the table as well. So, it’s the government, it’s private sector, it’s civil society and in that civil society group, we understand that can be a big group. That's communities, women and we know in the pacific that women make decisions at the household, so how is it that they play a role in this food systems conversation. We know in terms of coastal fisheries or coastal foods, it's women who go traditionally out to harvest seafood, for example. It's important that we do include women and youth.
I really won't touch much into finance because we could be here all day, but again that's an important one and I think the honourable minister had also sort of alluded to that in one of his interventions earlier. Emphasising the importance of finance and investment in the pacific when it comes to food systems as well.
Right, thanks Alisi. Now I'm just conscious we need to wrap up, so I'll just ask for a few final comments from each of the panellists. Before I do that, I'd just like to again thank every one of you for your interaction and your comments today and thank the audience for their engagement. Hopefully you've taken something away from this today, there's a lot more to go on with obviously, but I'd just like to conclude with those comments from me. That's all for me and final comments from each of every one of you. Maybe 30 seconds each so? Over to you, your excellency. Final comments?
Thank you, madam. I thank you very much for the invitation and for this meeting, this panel, I am so very excited to be one of your panellists. Thank you for the arrangement thank you for time, with us especially, thank you for our audiences here. Thank you for my colleagues. So please be with us as always and thank you everyone.
I think just very quickly remind everyone that food systems is everyone's business. I think you know it's not on just governments and policy makers to make decisions, I think it's on each one of us to you know take a small decision, or a decision, whether it's you know buying more local produce, reducing our waste and what we're purchasing, or you know talking to our colleagues and friends about food systems and decisions. I think it's really on each and one of us as we walk away from this side event. It is everyone's business not just left to policy makers.
Right thanks Alisi. And Larelle?
Thanks Donna, I think really we need to break away from our often siloed approaches I think in tackling these systemic issues in our agri food systems and we've heard a bit about that today and I think in Australia, through initiatives like the Food System Horizons Initiative that we're kicking off with the University of Queensland, with support from DAFF, building those kind of high level narratives to support inquiry based engagement across sectors. So really enabling cross sectors to come together with that solution is going to focus building, co-designing better user-funded activities across sectors. To be able to fill both the capability gaps, and also develop some of those innovative solutions that we need. I guess the last point is we need to work differently in some areas. Bringing our shared energies and wisdom. Being brave enough to test some new approaches and learn together.
Yep absolutely, being brave enough. And Jaci, you're brave, thank you.
I'd say is I often see people hesitating to take action and using the uncertainty in the climate change projections as an excuse for inaction. If you wait for the accuracy, it will be too late. I think in the food system space, there's so many no actions, don't let the uncertainty slow you down.
Great thank you.
Thank you and look, I'll finish on probably an example of action. The Pacific is really important to Australia and an example of how Australia does partner with pacific countries and in Fiji organizations such as SPC through our Australian Centre for international agricultural research. That actually looks at partnerships on the ground, that works with farmers, and other local communities to make sure we can embrace the indigenous ways of working, but bringing the innovation and the technologies to help with the capacity building with a real focus on women and youth.
Terrific, well without further ado, we've run just a few minutes over. Thank you for indulging us and again a warm thank you for all our panellists today. If you could just join your hands together and give them a warm round of applause.
Thank you and again Happy Food Agriculture and Water Day. Enjoy the rest of your day.
The role of livestock in meeting our global climate, food security and nutrition goals
Livestock are critically important for global food and nutrition security, but at the same time contribute to global emissions. It is important to recognise that livestock is becoming part of the climate solution. The sector is contributing to 40% of the global value of agricultural output and supporting the livelihoods and food and nutrition security of almost 1.3 billion people (FAO, 2023) and is now achieving some early success in arresting its climate impacts.
The Australian livestock industry, in delivering on its Carbon Neutral by 2030 commitment, has made significant investments through collaborative partnerships in new feed additive and carbon sequestration technologies; animal husbandry and breeding to improve herd efficiency; and investigation of pasture and legume mixes for soil carbon storage and anti-methanogenic properties.
Co-hosted with Meat and Livestock Australia this event gathered experts to share knowledge and best practices on the role of livestock to combat global warming, contribute to global food and nutrition security and to regional livelihoods.
- Donna Bennett, Department Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- Julia Waite, CN30 Project Manager, Meat and Livestock Australia
- Naomi Wilson, Head of Environment and Sustainability, Australian Agricultural Company
- Ty Beal - Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) US
- Caroline Emond, Director General, International Dairy Federation
- Thanawat Tiensin, Director, Animal Production and Health Division (NSA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Watch the panel discussion
The role of livestock in meeting our global climate, food security and nutrition goals
Okay, if everybody would like to come into the area and please move forward. For those of you who are grabbing a coffee, or milling around, please come and join us.
We've got a great session co-hosted by Meat and Livestock Australia, and the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry.
Today's session is titled The Role of Livestock in Meeting our Global Climate Food Security and Nutrition Goals and I'd like to welcome our panel members. I will introduce them one by one I'll introduce myself. My name is Donna Bennett, and I am the regional agriculture counsellor for Australia and am based in Dubai. I cover Middle East and North African countries for the Department of Agriculture fisheries and Forestry.
First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the tradition traditional owners of the land across we're meeting today. And I'd like to pay my respects to elders, past and present and I extend the respect to those indigenous people from all over the globe.
This afternoon, we'll be hearing from this exciting panel on the role of livestock to combat global warming, contribute to global food and nutrition security, and to regional livelihoods, and recognising that global challenge will need a global and local solution. Collaboration will be critical in sustainable development of this sector and define innovative solutions to support climate smart outcomes. I'll introduce you now to our speakers. First of all, we have Thanawat Tiensin, who is the director of Animal Production and Health Division at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations FAO in Rome. Thanawat also serves as an acting director at the joint FAO an idea centre of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture in Vienna and Austria.
Next panel member is Julia Waite is the cn30 project manager for Meat and Livestock Australia. In her role as cn30 project manager, she is responsible for identifying high impact research and development opportunities that deliver progress towards the red meat sector's Net Zero Target by 2030.
Next, we have Naomi Wilson who is head of environment and sustainability for Australia's largest integrated cattle and beef producer, for Australian Agricultural Company. Naomi is taking a leading role in bringing a sustainable approach to beef production in Northern Australia.
Ty Beal from Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition is global nutrition and food systems scientist dedicated to achieving healthy and sustainable diets for all. Through his research, he examines dietary patterns and their impacts on health and the environment.
Last but not least, Caroline Emond, is the director general of the International Dairy Federation. Caroline is also on the governance bodies of the global agenda for sustainable livestock and the livestock environmental assessment and performance.
Firstly, I'd like to invite Thanawat for some opening comments and present the role of livestock as the key driver for sustainable development in agriculture. As well as how the sector can reduce its environmental impacts and become more efficient in the use of resources.
Thank you very much for the invitation. My colleagues and myself prepared the statement to share with you. But it's better to talk with you directly what I'm thinking. What we would like to work together on, for better futures tomorrow. I think over the week, even the past year, we know already about the role of livestock to make contributions to food security nutrition, life livelihoods, and others.
Since we are here at COP28, we know that the main issue we are discussing here is about climate change. And that's why we also need to link ourselves, because I can see some of you working in livestock sectors. I can see from all panellists and some of you working, linked to nutrition as well and that's why the work that livestock we going to discuss in term of contribution of livestock, to nutrition, to food security, is key.
In the meantime, also we need to discuss trade off because we know that in the last two days when we launched at FAO Pavilion. We just launched the new report. Pathway Toward Lower Emissions for Livestock Productions. And we know that by 2050 livestock productions – meat, milk, egg, will increase by 20% at least to feed almost 10 billion people. And from the report, as well, it has shown that by 2050 if we don't do anything the emission will reach 9 billion tonnes from livestock sectors. But we also highlight to all of you that solutions, options, innovations are available. And all the solutions, if we really act from today, by 2050 we can reduce up to 1.9 billion tonnes. Even though we can do more, because of the work from over the past years, I'm sure we will have more solutions. We will have more innovation, we will have more technology because we know that all our producers, farmers, research institutions and private sectors, they are working to make sure that we can bring solutions for our planet. For a healthy planet and healthy people. And that's why together, we can make sure we bring down the emissions together. But in the meantime, when we are talking about nutrition, we're talking about food securities.
Only in April this year, at FAO, we launched the new report on the contribution of animal source food to healthy diets. My colleagues and my speakers, who going to talk more on nutrition, can give you more detail. But we know, when we are talking about animal source food, we have also been criticised. We know some regions, some countries, may have a high consumption. But also, the other countries, other region, have a very low consumption as well. Even though when we put in our model, when you're talking about the consumption of animal source food, that you can manage to reduce only around 300 million tonnes. And that's why, once the countries and regions that never have try meat / milk before or have a very low consumptions because we know that animal source food is a nutritious food. We also need to be aware, that when we're talking about healthy diets, we need to talk “what we eat”, “how we eat”, and “how much we eat”. That's why when we talk about “animals are healthy diets” we need to talk about balance healthy diets and you can see more that the new research, that talking about we are losing our muscle, every day when you are getting older and older and animal source food or animal protein, it is the protein that can help you to keep your muscle. When you get older, other kinds of protein cannot.
Sure, when we are talking about science and evidence-based, and that's why this year when at FAO we organised the global conference on sustainable livestock transformation in September, we're talking about sustainable livestock transformation initiative. That we focus on building science and evidence-based narrative to advocate sustainable livestock.
We're talking about sharing experience and best practices about sustainable livestock from different sectors. We're talking about how we going to increase responsible investment for sustainable livestock. Because the next 20 years, we are sure that livestock is a part of nature. It's a part of agri food system. I'm sure that we cannot imagine if tomorrow we don't have cows, we don't have chickens, we don't have pigs, what will happen in this planet. Because we know that we continue to feed people. We still need to bring nutritious food healthy diets to our people and that's why the role of livestock is very important. The role of animal source food is very important. And that's why we will continue to talk about sustainable livestock transformation.
We will bring all the knowledge and experience that you have and to share best practices around the world. The global conference on sustainable livestock transformation will not be a single event, but we will be part of the UN food system submit stocktaking. And every two years everyone will bring results. Everyone will bring more solutions and we can showcase and highlight that we making progress together. I'm sure that all of you will join us. To make sure that we will continue our work. To make sure that tomorrow we will have a better planet and tomorrow we will have a healthy people and healthy planet together. And to make sure that livestock is a part of solution and livestock is a part of agri food system and that's why we need to continue our work. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much Thanawat what and I love your passion.
What we're going to do now is I will pose some questions to the panel and I'll sit over there. Then after that we'll go to the audience. Think about questions as different questions come out or as different answers come out from the panel. Here we go.
Impressed. Loving these slides thank you MLA. All right, I'm going to pose the first question and I'll ask Julia to respond. I would also invite other panel members to come into these answers too so it's not just one question one person.
Julia, how can the livestock industry strike a balance between meeting the nutritional demands for a growing global population and implementing practices to reduce emissions and mitigate environmental impact?
Sure, few parts to that question, all equally important. I think, for our target, we recognise we need to engage the Australian Farmers as allies and not antagonists in helping us reduce emissions of production. I heard a great quote from a dairy farmer the other night on one of the other panels who said “if we try and talk to farmers about climate mitigation without talking about profit, we're just happy activists”. I think we have this real opportunity in our communication to bring them on that journey with us since most of the action is going to require them to be engaged and do the work on farm. In Australia, graziers managed 50% of Australia's land mass so a huge opportunity to sequester carbon in trees and vegetation there. The second piece of that, is MLA has a portfolio of $140 million going into emissions reduction and carbon storage research. That's all going to deliver outcomes over the decade but today, whether you're running a property what Naomi is managing, huge extensive properties, or you're a herder with 10 cows, managing for emissions on farm today looks like production efficiency. That's a real opportunity for us to kind of use the metrics that farmers are keen on paying attention to. Drivers of yield, drivers of profit, number of head, number of kilos and connect that to reduced emissions intensity per kilo of product.
Really engaging them in the language and the metrics they're already paying attention to making this process a little less fuzzy when we're trying to engage them on this journey of climate mitigation. So, we can ultimately continue to produce the red meat protein that the market is demanding with a lower carbon footprint.
Okay thank you and would anyone like to add to that conversation?
I might just pick up from there as a company that's producing beef in Australia. We operate across 6.5 million hectares or 16 million acres in Northern Australia producing beef that we export globally. We released our sustainability framework in 2021 but that was not the start of the sustainability journey for us. We've been working for many years on improving production efficiency and making our business as sustainable as we can. When we released that framework, we made a commitment to acting on our impact on climate and identified several challenges that we faced in doing that. So, we've started building on an efficient production system so in Australia we produce some of the most efficient beef in the world in terms of emissions. We've had a strong focus for a long time on first taking in nature, first approach to beef production. Really making sure that we manage the native grasslands that we grow our beef in. And making sure that that grassland is resilient. In doing that, that puts the best nutrition in front of our animals and that nutrition then enables them to express the genetics we've developed through our breeding and genetics program and to be incredibly efficient as a heard.
We're building on that now, so over the last two years, we've taken two of the key challenges that we see. The first one is around direct methane abatement and we've been working over the last two years to start to commercialise some of the products that are coming onto the market. We completed earlier this year a project on looking at asparaguses as a methane abatement technology and we're continuing that work moving forward. Looking at how we deliver those abatement products to animals in our herd. The other key challenge for us has been around sequestration in our landscape and understanding that potential, in a vast landscape, whether the data on that is incomplete.
We've been building tools, an integrated model, paired with satellite to help us understand carbon flows and stocks in our landscape. And where the opportunities for sequestration are. Coupling that with the work we're doing around methane abatement, we are building towards a beef product that is supporting future climate cooling.
Right thank you so much. What I think I'll do now, is move to a slightly different tact. To bring in some dairy conversations and some more protein conversations. So Caroline, the work you're doing is across a global context. How does the work you are doing contribute to the global and equitable solutions that support develop and emerging countries priorities and supports our global commitments on nutrition and food security challenges.
Actually, the International Dairy Federation is actually one of the oldest International Organisation we were created 128 years ago. Before FAO, before Codex, before all of that the global dairy sector has been working together on milk quality, on safety, on hygiene. They're working together the collaboration is actually what we are. IDF is a multi-stakeholder platform where we bring all the expertise from farmers, to processor, to researcher, to government, to work together on tools to make sure that we can address different topics. Whatever it is nutrition. Whatever it is climate action, that's what we do as an organisation.
And actually we when people say we need to do action, I'm saying we've been doing action for years. IDF created its first methodology LCA calculation for green gas emission in the dairy sector in 2010. We actually updated in 2015 and we had the newest version in 2022. So that tool has existed for a long time. We've had a lot of work that has been done in collaboration within the sector but also with colleague from livestock.
You mentioned in my biography the Global Alliance for Sustainable Livestock, the livestock and environmental performance assessment. So those are tools where we work together to build methodology, guidelines, to help the sector to continue its path to Improvement. I think that's important that we keep that in mind, particularly in a form like that where sometimes we feel on their pressure. The reality is that we need to be proud of what we've done, what we've accomplished, and what we continue to accomplish. We have a lot of commitment to continue. We have a lot of examples of what we do, what we can do and at IDF we have an innovation award. The winner this year is from the climate category is from Canada. It's a partnership, they've been collecting data for 10 years where they'll be able to, with breeding, select cattle and cows that emit have less emissions. Through breeding you will be selecting animals. There's all kind of things we can do to reduce the impact on median. We know you can have animal hair, animal care, animal nutrition. There's all kind of things. But breeding is part of it. That's one of the latest innovations I've been working hard for years on. To find those ideas. There's plenty there.
What we need is financing to scale. What we need is inspiration and that's what we do at IDF. We share our stories. We have a dairy sustainability outlook. You can go on our website and every year we publish it stories from around the world so you can be inspired by what our colleagues are doing in India relating to manure, how can you valorise manure, and make energy out of it. Then you can have farmers, you can have villagers, and at the same time, you actually have a value to your waste. There's all kind of activities that we do as a sector and we do globally in collaboration that's very exciting.
Wow. See I'm getting educated. Ty, let's get down to some nutritional facts. How do you see the role of livestock products in addressing malnutrition and what are the key nutritional benefits that should be emphasised?
First of all Gain is an organisation that seeks to improve nutrition for all especially the most vulnerable. We work in lower income context. We have direct programs in Africa and South Asia where consumption of animal source foods are far below amounts that would be required to meet nutrient needs. One of the things we know, from recent evidence, is that micronutrient deficiencies - vitamins and minerals are widespread worldwide. They're particularly high of course in countries without access to healthy diverse diets without access to animal source foods. We think about specific countries Kadivar, India, Cameroon others. For example, 9 in 10 women have at least one micronutrient deficiency. The deficiencies that are most common are often iron, zinc nutrients that are most available in forms that the body can use in animal sources. In low consuming context, we really we really emphasise the role of animal source foods like meat, eggs and dairy and fish, to meet some of the core micronutrients that are lacking in the diet.
Thank you. If I could just jump on that. The stakes are a lot higher in some of the low and middle- income countries that that Ty might be focused on. Even in Australia, last year we ran a consumer insight survey, of about 1,300 people, that showed that for the first time in 20 years almost we had the largest proportion of respondents who said they were increasing their consumption of red meat despite perhaps what we might guess was occurring in people's diets. The major reason, 75% of those people, said that was because of nutritional concerns - wanting to access more iron and protein. I'm sure the dietary recommendations differ country to country but in Australia, it's actually a very, I would say, modest recommendation. 455 grams of cooked lean red meat per week so that could either be two really big steaks, or I would say a very modest portion of red meat in a meal, three or four times a week. Some of us might be well and truly overhitting that mark and others perhaps might just fall below that on a week to week basis, without paying a lot of attention to it. I think what we're talking about is quite an achievable recommended daily intake to get all the benefit that Ty referred to.
I'd like to know how many grams is in a tomahawk, shared between two people. Tomahawk? What is a Tomahawk Scott? 2 kilos of meat on a bone a cow bone. Yeah – beef. It's called a tomahawk. Bring six friends is what you're saying Donna. It's like a T-bone on steroids or something. I don't know, it's just amazing. I digress, sorry it's late in the day and I need my barbecue and my red wine.
You've all said some interesting comments. Thanawat, what have you got any comments, you know, across this panel, of what you're hearing, or just now, with those questions that I I put to the panel? Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
We know that over the next year, we have a lot of pleasures and also a lot of questions from consumers, public, policy makers. We ask farmers, producers, private sectors and that's why I would like to have the question - how are we going to join our effort and make progress together. I can give you an example right now from when we presented the new report.
The report is based on modelling. We are now we try to work with the countries and the sectors directly on how we are going to get the data. What you have, as you mentioned and we can demonstrate, all the data you have, and we can bring, all the sectors together, and to highlight that we have evidence and also science to really tell the result itself.
People always ask about evidence and that's why we will need to work together with all the sectors the countries and also with international organisations. Especially as my colleague already mentioned, IDF worked in the dairy sector for 120 years. Now, we also need to do more since our consumers need something more. More than before and that's why I'm sure with your expertise, with your experience, we can showcase and highlight that we can make progress.
Thank you. Balancing economic performance with Net Zero is a key consideration for many industries so how do we ensure that investments in sustainable practices not only reduce emissions but also contribute to the economic viability of the livestock industry? Naomi would you like to add to that?
We don't see those two things as being at odds. When we look at where we're investing in our business and our landscape, we always look for that win-win outcome. Where can we get really good productivity outcomes, efficiency outcomes, and how can we also drive climate positive outcomes through that investment. Really good examples for developing infrastructure to better manage cattle through our vast landscapes, gives us really good productivity outcomes. We get boosts in winning rates and animal productivity through that.
That also delivers for us gains in the health in the landscape. Improved land condition, improved pasture growth, and that drives then carbon sequestration in that landscape. For us the key is looking for where that win-win comes from in those investments. It is a little bit more challenging when it comes to tackling methane abatement directly that's one of the biggest challenges that we face moving forward. How we make that cost effective for us as a business and the challenge there and the approach that we're taking is how do we partner, and collaborate, across the supply chain and more broadly across the industry to leverage investment and to cost share, so that all the cost doesn't fall on producers themselves. And to then drive multiple value through that supply chain so everybody along the supply chain is benefiting from that investment on ground, in productivity, in methane abatement.
I might draw on your knowledge, Caroline, with the methane abatement strategies. Through your collaborations globally. Is there something that you would mind sharing with us in that space?
Yes, what I could share first is the strong commitment from the dairy sector, dairy processor, for many dairy organisations around the world. It has been since a long time but we have, what we call the dairy Declaration waterdam which was signed between IDF and FAO in 2016. Which is a commitment to sustainability and to reporting and measuring. We also have since 2021 the pathways to net zero which is an initiative again where we actually discuss and look at the science and how you can reduce those emissions. So that work has been ongoing for quite a while and is continuing to do so.
Maybe if you allow me, I think one thing I'd like to add is that IDF supports the FAO position that when we talk about footprint, whether it is environmental footprint or carbon footprint, it is important to recognise a nutrition element. Because at the end of the day, not all foods are the same, they're not the same in nutrient density and you cannot be comparing footprints just on the basis if you don't take into consideration the nutrition aspect. And I think that's what's missing a bit in this discussion that we've been having for the last 10 days. People are comparing different things that are not comparable, and as a group, we need to make sure that the aspect of nutrition density is recognised when we talk about food print. Because we do, like every sector, livestock has a footprint, but what we talked a bit less about is the imprint. Because at the end of the day, there are also benefits, there's nutrition benefits, there's benefits on bio, I talked about biomass earlier on, biodiversity on soil health, on livelihood, on woman empowerment, those are all contributions that the livestock sector is doing, and that unfortunately, we haven't talked enough this week. I just want to take an opportunity to mention it.
Thank you. And I know, Ty, you were itching to get.
I think that's a great point, you know all of those areas are essential. One of the things that we're doing to bring more nutritionally relevant metrics for environmental impact assessments is to really look at the holistic nutritional value of each food. So that we're not comparing a kilogram of white rice to a kilogram of beef to a kilogram of dark leafy greens, we're looking at the actual nutritional value within those foods. We know that nutritional value varies quite a bit between foods and so we're starting to do that. And I think we've seen a lot of work out of FAO in 2021, there was a report on a nutritional life cycle assessment which really brought attention to that need. And I think we're just really starting to see those metrics come out. So I think that's the future.
Very exciting science. Now that's probably enough from my little question booklet. I'd like to open it up to any of the audience members who would like to ask a question.
Yes, Sue and then a gentleman just behind.
So, I'm the program director for farming for the future, which is trying to relate, get the evidence for environmental performance relationships with business performance. My question is that in Australia, there's considerable opportunity to invest in trees on farms. It's a really important part of decarbonisation, but also part of the animal welfare picture of shade and shelter. And my question to the panel is how powerful do you see those synergies of opportunities to both address abatement, address animal welfare, and also address the carbon question?
I guess the first disclaimer for me is that the vast majority of the landscape that we're operating in is a grassland, a native grassland and shrub lands and it's undisturbed. We have a 98% deforestation-free footprint on our landscape. Having said that, there's most certainly a role for tree planting and recovery of native vegetation across the beef estate in Australia. And there is plenty of evidence to show that planting trees in landscapes that have been historically cleared or even managing regrowth in a way that balances those biodiversity outcomes in those landscapes is beneficial for biodiversity and for cattle production. Benefits to soil health and therefore pasture nutrition. We're seeing great outcomes in terms of being able to demonstrate good biodiversity in the agri state as a result of that as well. It's a win-win.
Sorry, I needed a moment to process your question, fighting over the closing up coffee shop noise out the back but yeah, I think we see carbon sequestration as a really important strategy to buy us time while we're waiting for some of the more direct emissions interventions to come to the market.
On our net zero target which had a baseline of 2005, Australia's red meat sector has a 64.8% net emissions reduction progress indicator. The majority of that is vegetation regrowth in land under red meat management. While that's great, it's great at the same time our methane emissions of production have stayed relatively flat. So we know that if we're going to deliver on long-term climate mitigation and meet the expectations of the supply chain consumers, we're going to need to focus on that. And so that's where I see sequestration as being a really valuable lever for us to not only reduce net emissions, enrich our land condition, have other co-benefits like animal welfare, reduced erosion. We need those technologies like methane additives to resolve the direct emissions too.
Maybe for the dairy sector, I would say that in our case reducing the number of animals is definitely an important target and improving productivity per animal has actually been the way to address and do that win-win. Because actually, it is fewer animals, less on the land, less on the water, fewer emissions, less feed, so less cost for the farmers. So at the end of the day, it is a win-win solution. And in the high-income country, that improvement of efficiency per animal has been done already. In some low and middle-income countries, it's in progress, and they're working hard. But again, you have to go, if you take India where we actually need to work with millions of farmers that own a few animals and their productivity is a bit lower. And that's where there's a lot of work that has been done right now. If we take the National Dairy Development Board in India, for example, on portion ration for animal feed to make sure it's the right balance that actually makes the animals, animal care, animal welfare, all of that training, capacity building is being done in developing countries right now, and it takes a bit longer. But that productivity is that win-win we're looking for because it's going to make an impact. And we saw it in developed countries, so that's definitely one of the big targets right now.
Okay, thank you. And sir, your question?
Hello, I am Maximiliano from Paraguay, a country as well. In our country, we have currently a debate about carbon credits, soil health, and obviously, the beef industry. So I want to ask you what are your stands about the new metric global warming potential start and the possibility of soil-based carbon credits? As you talk a lot about carbon sequestration under the article six.
Sorry, there's a couple parts to your question there. I just clarify that the net progress achieved with Australia's sequestration has nothing to do with credits. So no formal program. Does anyone want to speak on soil carbon? No? Okay.
Actually, I combined two questions at the same time because we know that all the mitigation measures, there's no single mitigation that can solve all the problems. And that's why when we're talking about mitigation measures and solutions, it's a combination of actions. And we know that our producers and farmers, when you work on the farms, they don't talk just only about animal health or animal feed, but they talk about all this value chain to make sure at the end farmers can get benefit, they can get profit, and they can survive. And that's why it links to your question when you're talking about soil carbon sequestration. It is also one of the solutions in the metric. And even though in FAO report, we also put the component of the soil sequestration and also in terms of bio circular economy which actually right now in many countries are working a lot on bio circular economy or even the issues of agroforestry. And that's why now in many countries in your regions when you're talking about grazing with trees, now they have a lot of solution and also best practices that animals also can keep with trees and forests and also is a core benefit between forest and also with livestock. And that's why we can say that there are several systems when you're talking about agriculture or livestock system. All the systems complement each other. And that's why it's about balancing, balancing of nature. If we know that we produce more, perhaps we know that it may have a negative impact and that's why we may need to change a bit to make sure that we still can feed people, we can bring better nutrition, better food security for people. But at the same time also, we try to reduce the impact, environmental impact and also climate and also build better climate resilience for all. And that's why it's a kind of balance and balancing.
We have a question.
If you don't mind, I would like to inform you next year, if possible, that at FAO, we also, after the global conference on sustainable livestock transformation in September, one of the recommendations that we received from the members and also for all our stakeholders, we will launch the sustainable livestock transformation digital platform that all the countries, all the sectors can share your best practices from dairy sectors, from beef sectors in Australia, you're doing a lot about beef production sustainability, dairy, and so on in New Zealand, in Canada, in the US, in Latin America, in India, because recently I just received the data set from India, in the National Dairy Development Board of India, about 40,000 records of dairy farmers. And when we validate in our model, it really shows that when you put all the measures, it really can reduce the impact. And now we are expecting to get about a million records of farmers from India. But now we are also, we don't talk about just only emerging markets, but we also have to talk with the countries from the developed market as well, because you are, you have data. And now last week, I just talked with New Zealand. And when I return, I would talk with your representative in Australia. And then every country can share. And then we can bring all our, let's say, the evidence and to highlight to our consumers, public, and policymakers because we need to talk about science and evidence. Thank you very much.
And we had a question from another gentleman.
Thank you. Can you hear me? Thank you very much for organising such a wonderful event. Thank you very much for organising such a wonderful event. I come from the land of livestock, the country is Somalia. It is an economy based on agriculture, particularly livestock. 60% of our GDP comes from alone one sector, which is livestock. Contributes food, contributes 70% of our livelihood of our population as well as I would like to say income. And as well as food security, which is you cannot imagine what we say in Somali language means dairy and meat, which is our life. And so what I would like to say when you look at Somalia, it is one of the most vulnerable countries for climate change because nothing else but it is the economy, their livelihood is based on agriculture, which if would have been a livestock, crop, fisheries, and all forestry products. And this is we are very susceptible for climate change vulnerability and variability as well as on the issues when you look at and I like the way he said during the discussion, we understood the livestock contribution of the green emission, carbon. But yet we recognise as well as we are very poor countries and not our only livestock contribution is this. This is global, and we have to think more globally. I agree with your team of the banal and the reason to work together is very important working together is very important to think global agenda and to balance the need of our Earth. It is very important yet we would like to introduce the countries of climate-resilient, climate resilience livestock, or climate resilience technology agriculture, which can decrease our contribution as well as our production and productivity will also increase. But the country when you look at after 30 years of a situation, Civil War, not settled the country would like to revitalise, is such as us, and that's the reason I visited this wonderful. I wish it was during the early morning. I came and look at the whole thing is how they are going but it is a late event but yet I'm here, and we are looking forward to partner with you, your contributions as well as we know FAO very reputable organisation in Somalia during all the difficult time and as well as I understand Australian contribution for our country, as well as not only our country for the whole Africa, when it comes to knowledge when it comes introducing climate technology and all the things. So I'm here for you guys, and I would like to thank you. It wasn't a question. It just was more comments.
Thank you. Did you want to respond, though?
We, whilst our industries look very different, our landscapes in many parts look quite similar, particularly in some of the savannah harsh landscapes of the north of Australia can be quite similar to places in Africa. So we do hope that some of our investments in particularly land-based research, feed-based soils, climate adaption, resilience could translate. So, we've got a lot to share but also a lot to learn too between the two regions, and I'm very humbled by your comments. I've had a tremendous opportunity personally to live in Indonesia and now here. But in Indonesia, I experienced that smallholder farm concept and it’s incredible how the smallholders, they may have one or two cows, a couple of goats, and myriads of ducks or chickens. But you know, that's their livelihood - they feed their family. The whole village supports each other, and solutions for our future must be people-centric, and it must involve the people that grow the food. And you've said it all, but we can now share our knowledge. We've got tremendous connection globally like never before, and it's getting faster and better, and more intricate, and articulated like never before. I think we've got the perfect opportunity to collaborate and connect. Like phone a farmer, just give us a call. It just becomes simple as connecting. Thank you for your comment. Thanawat what would like to make another comment.
I would like to make another comment. Thank you very much to our colleagues from Somalia. Actually, yesterday, I just met your minister of livestock and agriculture and irrigations from Somalia at the AO Pavilion. And one of the issues that we discussed as well is how we're going to support young farmers and young producers. It's one of the key issues, also in the Horn of Africa, which actually is in a difficult situation due to conflict. But anyway, we know that, like your countries or Sudan and Ethiopia, which are sources of animals and livestock exported to these regions, to Saudi Arabia, for example. Like in your countries, you have around 18 million people with 13 million camels, which is one of the largest camel productions in the world. But anyway, others, and also others are local cattle and so on, which actually, I think, the country has potential. And that's why, in terms of nutrition, food securities, and rural development, it is one of the key factors for Africa. Thank you very much.
Thank you, and thank you, sir. Again, and thank you for everybody. I know we're dwindling now, so I'm going to wrap it up. So, I'd like to just invite the panel to give some closing remarks. If I can take that, that was your closing remark, Thanawat, or would you like another closing remark? Afterward, we'll go to Julia. Yeah, okay, Julia, closing remarks.
I think what I'd like to see people leaving this conference or into the future is that they have trust and confidence in the environmental credentials of the red meat sector. So they can feel free to feel good about eating red meat protein if they choose to do so. You know, as Thanawat mentioned, in some communities, we may have overconsumption, in others not enough, but in the middle, we have a lot of waste as well. So I think rather than really simplistic conversations about, you know, do we have meat in our food system or not, do we need to cut it back, I think a more interesting, complex, and nuanced discussion would be about equity of distribution, reducing food waste, and just recognising that not all production systems are created equal, and there are merits and detractors about all different systems. So having that deeper conversation about where we can derive our protein and make sure it gets to the right places.
Thanks, Naomi. Next, I'm still thinking about your comments. I see some really significant possibilities for the entire global community if we work together to solve problems collaboratively and share resources and share knowledge and learn from each other. And I think that's probably the key step moving forward is strong collaboration around making a change to really unlock the potential of the livestock industry to deliver climate-positive outcomes.
I think I just want to highlight how drastically different consumption of red meat, processed meat is across the world. So in higher-income contexts, processed meat consumption is very common that can come down for health and for environmental benefits. But when you actually look at unprocessed red meat, best-modelled estimates actually suggest that Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia have the highest consumption even higher than high-income countries. And when you look at Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, it's actually very, very low. So I think one thing that we can all hopefully agree on and work towards is really trying to get equitable distribution, equitable access to these foods so that those who choose to consume them can do so. There are huge inequities globally, and I think that we need to work towards making access to healthy foods, which include red meat, a part of that.
I'd say that nutrition security and climate action are both priorities, and livestock can actually be part of the solution for both. You don't have to choose between one or the other; on the contrary, they actually link. And I can say is that from the dairy sector perspective, the global dairy sector and the organization itself are committed to sustainability. They are committed to climate action. They have in place action programs rolling around the world, and that is important that we celebrate that and we encourage so we can actually continue working together in actually nourishing the world.
Thank you, and Thanawat. I just would like to have the last words. We believe that we have a solution, and we believe that we bring a solution, and we trust in all of you and all of you who are sitting with us that we can make progress together. And I'm sure that at the end, we would take action, and tomorrow we will see result. And I'm sure that through all the work that FAO is working on with members and stakeholders, farmer producers and private sectors, we need to show our result, and we need to communicate and echo our voice together.
Thank you very much, thank you so much, and thank you all the panel. If you'd like to clap your hands together and appreciate our panel members today, really great conversation. I've learned quite a lot, and I hope you have too, food for thought, so to speak. And happy Food Agriculture and Water Day. There's still time left to have that Tomahawk with the red wine, but I will give a plug for MLA being co-host. There is a scan QR code available on the end of each, or during the where is it? on The Rose, yeah. So they're all over the place, so we'll leave those out there for you. But again, thank you, everybody, and again, thanks for the panel for being so collegiate. We've got a bright future ahead, haven't we, folks? And very good that we can collaborate and connect. I think that's key. So thanks again, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your evening. Thank you.
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