COP28: AU urges high-income countries to support livestock systems

Written by Abdulkareem Mojeed

Published: December 6, 2023

Topic: COP28

The African Union (AU) has called on high-income countries at the ongoing United Nations Conference of Parties (COP28) to ramp up investments to sustain Africa’s livestock systems amidst climate change and the fastest-growing population on the planet.

The group made this call in an open letter endorsed by African leaders, scientists and other relevant experts on Thursday.

The document, signed by more than 50 organisations and individuals, was released ahead of the COP28 climate summit. It described livestock as a “climate solution with legs” for the 800 million herders and smallholder farmers they support across sub-Saharan Africa.

Signatories to the letter include Josefa Sacko, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, as well as academics, scientists and experts in sustainable development.

The letter outlines how livestock can offer resilience to climate extremes and also help restore degraded land, support biodiversity, and support communities to rebuild in the aftermath of disasters.

“Despite this potential for sustainable livestock development to contribute to climate adaptation and resilience, Africa’s livestock sector continues to receive just a fraction of overall climate finance,” the leaders noted.

Disturbing trend

In 2020, they noted that Africa received just 11 per cent or $30 billion of its total climate finance needs, with less than one per cent reaching the livestock sector.

At the same time, the letter noted that more than 13 million livestock have died during the ongoing and unprecedented drought across the Horn of Africa alone, endangering the lives and livelihoods of the communities they support.

In his remarks, Appolinaire Djikeng, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), said livestock is the lifeblood of millions of people across Africa, supporting greater nutrition, economic opportunities, and adaptation in the face of rising climate extremes and food insecurity challenges.

“Parties at COP28 must urgently recognise the full potential of climate adaptation for Africa’s livestock sector to sustainably feed and support a quarter of the world’s population by 2050, and direct funding accordingly,” he said.

On her part, Huyam Salih, Director of African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), said: “Supporting climate adaptation in Africa through investment in livestock is not just an economic issue, but a form of climate justice, given Africa has contributed less than three per cent of historic global greenhouse gas emissions.”

“In this context, supporting greater adaptation and resilience for Africa’s livestock sector is vital for improving the livelihoods of the continent’s 800 million herders and smallholder farmers amid deteriorating climate conditions,” she added.

Signatories of the letter also set out how improving the resilience of small-scale livestock systems across Africa can also help reduce the sector’s emissions.

They said expanding simple, improved practices on smallholder farms and preventing livestock losses can reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 30 per cent, while boosting productivity, animal welfare, food security and incomes.

Similarly, the letter hhighlighted a range of opportunities in the livestock sector that can help support sustainable development and climate justice across Africa.

This, the letter said, included developing more reliable forages and feed, more resilient breeds of indigenous livestock, and more resilient animal health systems and support services, such as digital information tools, finance and index-based livestock insurance.


This story was originally published by Premium Times, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP28 Climate Justice Reporting Fellowship.

About the author of this article
Abdulkareem Mojeed

Abdulkareem Mojeed is a journalist from Nigeria. A graduate of Botany and Ecological Studies, he focusses on development; agriculture, food security, climate change, the environment, and the local currency market.