High-income countries at COP28 have been urged to ramp up investments to help Africa adapt its livestock systems to support the fastest-growing population on the planet.
The call was made in an open letter from African leaders, scientists, experts and more than 50 organisations. They emphasized that livestock rearing is a priority for the 800 million herders and smallholder farmers.
Signatories included Ambassador Josefa Sacko, the African Union commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment.
The letter outlined how livestock offers resilience to climate extremes, can restore degraded land and support biodiversity, and help communities rebuild after disasters.
The signatories said despite livestock's potential to contribute to climate adaptation and resilience, Africa’s livestock sector continues to receive a small fraction of overall climate finance.
"Livestock are 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,” said Prof Appolinaire Djikeng, director general, of International Livestock Research Institute.
Djikeng stressed that at COP28, parties must recognize livestock's full potential for sustainable climate adaptation in Africa. This is critical to feed and support 25 per cent of the world's population by 2050.
According to Prof Djikeng, improved smallholder practices and preventing livestock losses can reduce emissions by up to 30 per cent. This boosts productivity, animal welfare, food security and incomes.
The letter highlighted livestock sector opportunities to support sustainable development and climate justice in Africa.
These include developing reliable forages and feeds, resilient indigenous livestock breeds, resilient animal health systems, and support services like digital information tools, financing, and livestock insurance.
"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,” said Dr Huyam Salih, director of African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources.