Climate change will have severe impacts in many parts of the tropics and
subtropics. Despite the importance of livestock to poor people and the
magnitude of the changes that are likely to befall livestock systems,
the intersection of climate change and livestock is a relatively
neglected research area. Little is known about the interactions of
climate and increasing climate variability with other drivers of change
in livestock systems and in broader development trends. Evidence is
being assembled that the temporal and spatial heterogeneity of household
responses may be very large. While opportunities may exist for some
households to take advantage of more conducive rangeland and cropping
conditions, for example, the changes projected will pose very serious
problems for many other households. Furthermore, ruminant livestock
themselves have important impacts on climate, through the emission of
methane and through the land-use change that may be brought about by
Given that climate change is now being seen as a key development
challenge, and that a very large global community is already working on
climate-change-related issues, the CGIAR in general, and ILRI in
particular, need to consider carefully how the research agenda might be
adjusted to respond. While the global environmental change community is
very large, ILRI as a small institute can still contribute effectively
to the climate change/development debate by focusing on a few key
niches, through alliances with carefully chosen collaborators. This
discussion paper is an attempt to assemble and summarise relevant
information concerning climate change, livestock and development, and to
identify what these key niches might be.
The report briefly summarises what is known about climate change and its
effects on agroecosystems, and summarises the current limits to
prediction. It reviews the literature on climate change impacts on
livestock and livestock impacts on climate, and thus sets out to answer
the question, what do we know? Knowledge and data gaps are then
identified, and a synthesis presented in relation to our clients and
stakeholders and to alternative providers of knowledge and information.
The paper ends by looking at the questions, what do we not know, and
what should we do about it, with a discussion of recommendations for
ILRI activities in the area, and the strategic alliances needed, some of
which already exist.
Discussion Paper No. 11, ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya, 76 pp.
The livestock-climate-poverty nexus. A discussion paper on ILRI research in relation to climate change.