Centring livestock-keepers

The anti-meat narrative emerging from mainstream livestock assessments neglects the rights and values of small, marginal and extensive livestock keepers that are most affected by climate change. Putting livestock keepers at the centre of debates ensures climate just policies that safeguard both livelihoods and the environment.

Extensive livestock-keepers and pastoralists make use of challenging and variable environments to produce meat, milk and other products in areas where crop agriculture may be difficult. This ensures vital nutrition for poor communities across the world. Moreover, their local knowledge and the careful breeding and herding practices offer many benefits to rangeland environments.

Simplistic narratives about the harmful effects of livestock on climate are misleading and do not address questions of climate justice. Calls for a transition to plant-based diets or lab-grown meat reflect the views of the consumption elite in rich countries who are implicated as high consumers of industrial meat and milk. Yet, such calls transfer power away from pastoralists and small livestock keepers from marginal regions and put it in the hands of huge corporations.

At the same time, pastoralists also face loss of resources to ‘green grabbing’ initiatives such as the expansion of agriculture, conservation areas, or land sparing eroding any benefits they may offer as well as decimating their livelihoods.

The infosheet ‘Putting livestock-keepers at the centre of the climate-livestock debate‘ shows how bringing pastoralists into conversations on climate solutions ensures just and equitable outcomes. It asks to develop practical solutions to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by working with pastoralists and drawing on their knowledge and practices offers many opportunities for sustainable futures.Follow our campaign

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Drawing from the report “Are livestock always bad for the planet?” the infosheet is part of a series of material helpful for understanding the relationship between livestock, livestock keepers and climate change ahead of the COP27 of the UNFCCC. Read about the report briefing.

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