IDF event at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi looks at sustainability

An insightful side event on sustainable dairy ecosystems was successfully conducted yesterday during the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA6) in Nairobi, Kenya. The event, organised by the International Dairy Federation (IDF) in collaboration with key partners, brought together experts and stakeholders to discuss the diverse contributions of ruminant production to sustainability.

The theme of the event, “Sustainable Dairy Ecosystems: Nutrition Security, Women’s Empowerment, Climate-Smart Agriculture, Action on Nature and Biodiversity Enhancement,” guided discussions among panellists who delved into the positive and negative impacts of ruminant production on various aspects of sustainability, with a specific focus on the environment. The session was moderated by Shirley Tarawali, chair of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock  and assistant director general of the International Livestock Research Institute.

Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council, emphasised the role of dairy in fostering sustainable food systems. She stated, “Dairy is a part of and a solution for sustainable food systems,” highlighting the US dairy sector’s commitment to biodiversity and soil health strategies. “The US dairy industry is actively engaged in research, monitoring, and supporting farmers to enhance soil health,” she added.

Dr John Walker Recha, member of the FAO LEAP technical advisory group on ecosystem services at the International Livestock Research Institute, emphasised “the overlooked potential of livestock farming systems in providing diverse ecosystem services.” He called for a unified approach in mapping and assessing ecosystem services from livestock agroecosystems.

At his turn, John R. Tauzel, senior director at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), stressed that “we need action now, we might not have all the answers but that should not stop us from improving.”

Lloyd Day, deputy director of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, emphasised “the importance of supporting agriculture for economic development, food security, and sustainable land management.”

Dr. James Rao, senior scientist – agricultural economist at the International Livestock Research Institute, discussed “the market opportunities for livestock products and their impact on enhancing ground cover, carbon sequestration, and pest control.”

Dr. Meenesh Shah, chairman and managing director of the National Dairy Development Board of India, highlighted dairying as “an insurance for farmers and an instrument for rural prosperity, with a key focus on gender inclusion.”

The event successfully shed light on the various ecosystem services provided by dairy animals and discussed strategies for building truly sustainable dairy production systems. The dairy sector, facing the challenge of nourishing a growing global population sustainably, remains at the forefront of fostering resilient food systems and aligning with global climate goals.

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