Climate change impacts on agricultural systems are intensifying. The recent IPCC report illustrates that as temperatures climb, changes in the climate are pushing systems beyond sustainable boundaries. This is the case with certain livestock production systems (e.g. climate impacts can result in devastated supply chains or crop failures). When climate impacts are, or are projected to be, so severe that they may undermine the continued viability of livestock production and the livelihoods of the communities who depend on it, transformative adaptation must be employed.
Transformative adaptation actions for livestock production may include relocating livestock production systems, introducing new livestock technology or methods, or transitioning into or out of livestock for other agricultural or nonagricultural livelihoods. Governments, policymakers, adaptation funders and farmers all play important roles in identifying, designing, funding and implementing transformative pathways, or sets of specific actions and strategies that can be sequenced to create a trajectory towards transformation.
In the agricultural sector, transformative adaptation in livestock production systems are important to avoid projects and programs that can cause more harm in the long run (maladaptation). These transformative pathways can help promote socially equitable outcomes. While transformative adaptation may not be appropriate in all circumstances, it may often be the only solution for long-term, sustainable and equitable climate resilience.
- The severity of climate change may mean that farmers and herders in some areas will have to move away from culturally significant livestock species to more climate-resilient ones, or even out of livestock production entirely in some cases.
- Governments, funders, and the private sector should develop adap¬tation pathways that lead toward transformation. Transformative adaptation options should be incorporated into National Adaptation Plans, Nationally Determined Contributions, sectoral development plans, national budgets, and other national planning processes.
- Funders should consider moving beyond pilots and one-off short-term projects. Instead, funders should sequence adaptation measures to form transformative pathways. This will help overcome challenges around shifts in livestock production, long breeding times, market barriers, cultural norms, and the unpredictability of extreme events like drought.
- Transforming the livestock sector will require private-sector investment and public-private partnerships. Governments can also ensure that market incentives, like subsidies, support public-private investment at the scale required.
- Transformations in fodder and feed production is necessary to maintain the viability of some livestock production systems. These technologies and methods include novel feed species, manufactured enriched feed and feed concentrate, and large-scale rehabilitation methods for degraded forage lands.
- Disease surveillance and prevention systems must be developed and implemented to build climate resilience. In many developing countries, extension and veterinary services, disease modeling, phytosanitary standards, and early warning systems for pathogen transmission are weak or nonexistent. This infrastructure is necessary to combat continually changing disease dynamics due to climate change.
- More data, research, and analysis that considers long-term climate risks is needed, especially since there is a dearth of research into the type of livestock adaptation approaches that would be considered transformative.