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Over fifty people attended the recent meeting of the Livestock Research Group in Melbourne, Australia recently. This was the eighth meeting for the group, held 19-20 February 2016 immediately following the international Greenhouse Gas & Animal Agriculture (GGAA) conference. It also encompassed a joint meeting with the GRA's newly formed Integrative Research Group (IRG).
Representation spanned the globe, including two new observers from Tanzania and Uganda, and several key LRG partners - CCAFS, FAO and the World Bank. The meeting traversed the full range of the LRG's work plan.
Current research landscape
Countries were interested in learning more about each other's domestic research in support of the GRA's ambitions, and also about existing capability building projects, programmes and funding mechanisms, including where GHG emissions may not be the primary focus but where this could be added as a component (e.g. livestock productivity and development). A good reference point for this information is the country-specific web pages available in the community section of the GRA website - countries were encouraged to update their pages via the Secretariat.
Continuing with capability building, the meeting agreed a central theme for the LRG's efforts in this area during 2016 and beyond: Helping countries move towards Tier 2 GHG inventories and designing improved measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems for livestock GHGs.
As the year unfolds, the LRG will look to its partnerships with other key organisations working in this area to prioritise and develop a programme of activity in this growing area of interest. Opportunities exist with CCAFS and the World Bank to strengthen tools, training and processes for countries to measure, report and verify their livestock GHG emissions and to improve how national GHG inventories capture information on gains in livestock productivity. The LRG will also work with CCAFS to compile existing capability building materials on livestock GHG research into an open access information platform.
The LRG's flagship capability building project (partnering with FAO and drawing on funding from the Climate & Clean Air Coalition and the New Zealand Government), ‘Reducing enteric methane for improving food security and livelihoods' was discussed as stage 1 of this initiative is scheduled to come to an end during 2016. Stage 1 has focused on identifying and prioritising high potential areas for mitigation in ruminant livestock production systems in various regions, aiming to design cost-effective technical ‘intervention packages' that can deliver multiple benefits on farms. The meeting agreed the importance of pursuing a second stage for the project, which would see the intervention packages tested on farms and scaled up for widespread implementation.
Collaborative research / Research networks and databases
A core focus of the LRG's meeting agenda was the work of the research networks with a dynamic breakout group session to discuss their recent achievements and hear their ideas for priority collaborative research during 2016 and beyond, along with identifying possible funding mechanisms to support this future work (including ERA-GAS call).
In addition, the meeting received an update on the development of a regional network for Mediterranean countries, led by Italy. This will focus initially on a multidisciplinary approach to water resources and quality, mycotoxins in feed, heat stress tolerances and vector borne diseases. Countries interested in being involved should contact Giacomo Pirlo (email@example.com).
Good practice guidance and methodologies
The LRG's Manure Management Network indicated that it would like to review the existing N2O Chamber Methodology Guidelines and update and expand them as necessary.
Policy support and links to international initiatives
Interest was expressed in translating the very popular joint LRG and SAI-Platform industry publication, ‘Reducing GHG emissions from livestock: best practice and emerging options', into other languages. We are hoping that this may soon be available in French, Spanish and possibly Thai. The LRG will also work with the SAI-Platform to hold joint seminars in various regions that extend on that publication, showcasing industry/science partnerships that are already reducing the emissions intensity of livestock production.
An opportunity was identified for the LRG to assist the World Bank in developing a programme to guide investors to large-scale implementation of sustainable livestock, including addressing emissions intensity. Opportunities for increased engagement with the FAO were also identified, including via the Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock (GASL) and the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance Partnership. The meeting also received a demonstration of the new FAO tool to support countries tackling climate change through livestock production, GLEAM-i, which enables governments, industry, producers and others to calculate emissions and emissions reductions from various interventions using Tier 2 inventory methods.
The next meeting of the LRG will be held in Washington DC, USA in April 2017. More details will be sent towards the end of this year.
Joint discussions with the Integrative Research Group
A core part of this year's LRG meeting was a joint meeting with the GRA's newly formed IRG. This group was agreed at the 2015 GRA Council meeting as a merger of the previous two cross-cutting groups on soil C and N cycling, and inventories and monitoring issues. The joint meeting was co-chaired by Australia, Canada and France as the Co-chairs of the IRG.
The IRG Co-chairs outlined the scope of the new group as being focused on the estimation, monitoring and projection of GHG emissions within and across agricultural systems. Its activities will centre around a series of networks on different integrative issues across the GRA:
The joint meeting identified possible short and longer-term activities for these network, including a potential connection with the French 4‰ Initiative on soil carbon for food security and climate change. The IRG Co-chairs underscored the importance of identifying key audiences and end users for the group's work and of packaging their outputs appropriately. This point was picked up throughout the wider LRG meeting as well.