Global dairy community accepts sustainability challenge

Global dairy community is committed to sustainable development of dairy sector.

The signing of a comprehensive statement outlining the key contributions and commitments of the dairy sector toward achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals marked the conclusion of the International Dairy Federation’s (IDF) World Dairy Summit in Rotterdam last week.

IDF president Jeremy Hill and assistant director general of the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Ren Wang said the declaration provides a common, high-level purpose regarding the dairy sector’s role in nutritional security, sustainability and socioeconomic development.

Dairy is the leading global agricultural sector by value and is directly responsible for 240 million jobs worldwide. From this, approximately 1 billion livelihoods, or the socioeconomic well-being of a seventh of the world’s population, are supported. Dairy also is considered essential to the reduction of hunger and malnutrition, particularly among the world’s most vulnerable (pregnant women and children).

“Commitment — that is what FAO is here for,” Wang said. “We are honored and pleased to make a joint commitment with the dairy sector by signing this declaration.”

Hill added, “If we, as a multi-stakeholder organization don’t take the lead, who will?”

The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam states that representatives of the 1 billion-member global dairy community are committed to the sustainable development of the dairy sector to generate widespread benefits for people and the planet.

In signing the declaration, an agreement was made to recognize:
• The U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the overarching framework that will guide the sector’s actions toward sustainable development from a social, environmental, economic and health perspective;

• The vital role of dairy for food security and poverty reduction and the important livelihood and development opportunities for family farmers, smallholders and pastoralists;

• The critical contribution the dairy sector makes to sustainable development, including:
    - The essential role of dairy products for balanced, nutritious and healthy diets;
    - The major contribution dairy makes to countries’ economies, income, employment and livelihood, and
    - The key function of the dairy sector in management of terrestrial ecosystems and the need to address environmental degradation and climate change and to support biodiversity;

• The diversity of dairy production systems and dairy breeds, contexts and priorities, and

• The need for continuous and open dialogue and joint actions at all levels.

It was further agreed to:

• Take an integrated approach to promote the sustainability of dairy systems, jointly taking into consideration social, economic, health and environmental dimensions;

• Give particular attention to the needs of family farmers, smallholders and pastoralists;

• Build, implement and disseminate tools and guidelines to facilitate the identification and adoption of sustainable practices in the dairy sector;

• Build capacity in support of sustainable practices and provide enabling conditions;

• Measure and report on sustainability outcomes.

•Strengthen multi-stakeholder dialogue for consensus building, reviewing progress and continuous improvement.

“We are encouraged that the Global Dairy Industry Rotterdam Declaration clearly recognizes the need to conserve natural resources, curb climate change and protect biodiversity. It is also promising that the industry has committed to working with stakeholders and to measure, manage and report the industry’s progress,” said Sandra Vijn, World Wildlife Fund director, sustainable food.

“With this new sustainability commitment, the global dairy industry can take these and other solutions to scale. It is key that the industry focus on a few realistic growth models with the limitations of available resources in mind, and communicate progress made towards these commitments. We would like to see that other livestock industries follow this example,” Vijn added.

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