The St George’s House Consultation on Global Food Systems in 2023 identified livestock production as a pivotal issue for transformation of food systems to be sustainable for the future.

There is an urgency to this agenda, since livestock production is a principal driver of, or a major contributor to, biodiversity loss, deforestation, climate change, soil degradation, and overuse and pollution of water. It contributes to key non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance, as well as increasing the risk of future pandemics. The IPCC has identified changes in meat and dairy consumption as one of the most effective measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, with co-benefits for the environment, health, food security, animal welfare, and biodiversity.

However, international fora, governments, food businesses and civil society have found it difficult to address the role that livestock should play in future-fit, sustainable food systems. This is particularly pressing for nations of the ‘Global South’, where the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers are under threat from further unsustainable intensification by large-scale producers. In the ‘Global North’ the issue of reduced livestock production and consumption has become highly polarised.

A St George’s House Consultation provides an ideal and constructive forum for a diverse group of key stakeholders to explore the challenges and develop a way forward together. The aim would be co-create a narrative and agenda for action that can be taken into preparation for the critical climate COP30 to be held in Brazil, for the UN Food Systems Summit stock-take and for other international policy fora.