The Canadian beef industry was well represented at this year’s Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) 12th Multi-Stakeholder Partnership (MSP) meetings, in Dublin, Ireland. Canadian Cattle Association (CCA) staff, Mitchell Zoratti, and Canadian Cattle Young Leaders representatives, Mackenzie Argent and Gleise Medeiros da Silva, spent the week of October 3-7, 2022, sharing Canada’s sustainability story on the global stage.
The week was designed around livestock sector achievements, key challenges, and priority actions that will significantly contribute to reaching sustainable food systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by addressing evidence, dialogue, and changes in policies and practices. Livestock's importance in global food security and the relationship between food, nutrition, environment, and health was a focal point of discussions over the week.
For the first time in GASL history, a delegation of “next generation” / “youth” participants were invited to engage in the 12th MSP meetings. Youth engagement involved an interactive plenary session on day one, a synthesis following their field trips on day three, and a presentation and recap of the week on the final morning. This provided a critical platform for youth to engage in global networks and share learnings and experiences with other like-minded individuals. It quickly became apparent how industry youth development programs are critical in preparing youth engaged in agriculture to be confident and to engage in discussions at events like these.
Programs such as the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders, Canadian Cattle Youth Council, and 4-H are exemplary programs that help mould the next generation of industry leaders. After discussing what youth development programming looks like on a global scale, it was apparent that Canada is a global leader with a model framework for youth development.
Recurring throughout the week, was the challenge of having no “silver bullet” to the issue of sustainability. Globally, sustainability is recognized as a challenge; however, different regions face different challenges, and have unique solutions. To balance the narrative for sustainable livestock across the world, the sector must: 1) meet environmental targets, and 2) demonstrate that livestock products have an important role in healthy diets. Only then can a positive narrative be developed to replace the negative one.
One way to address the challenge of sustainability is to bridge the gap between research, producers, and consumers. Day three of the GASL meetings took the youth delegation to Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research Centre where participants had the opportunity to witness real action and concrete data regarding emissions reduction and grazing practices. Teagasc leads the Signpost Program, a collaboration with producers to achieve early progress in reducing emissions, improving water and soil quality, improving biodiversity, reducing costs, and making more profitable and sustainable farms. The work being done in the Signpost Program is crucial for better alignment between academic research and the reality of on-the-ground farming.
The Canadian delegates were engaged in many impactful conversations throughout the week and no doubt, developed numerous meaningful relationships with colleagues from across the world. CCA always looks forward to opportunities to share the message that Canada’s livestock sector is part of the solution.