Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Expert joins sustainable livestock event at COP26

Researcher joins panel discussion on future of Brazilian agriculture at UN Climate Change meeting.

A scientist whose work on sustainable livestock production has influenced government policy in Brazil is to join a high-profile event at COP26.

Dr Rafael Silva, a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, will take part in a Sustainable Livestock panel in Brazil’s Pavilion at the Glasgow event on Monday 8 November.

In this panel, government representatives and farmers will discuss promotion and adoption of low carbon emission technologies.

Dr Silva’s expertise is in applied mathematics, working with models of agriculture, food security and biodiversity conservation, to better understand the relationships between energy, livestock and deforestation.

He previously informed policy with regard to livestock contribution at COP21 in 2015, when Brazil first announced a target of zero deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, as part of Brazil’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

Influential work

The researcher led a government-commissioned study that estimated that zero deforestation is possible by restoring around 10 per cent of Brazil’s 170 million hectares of pasturelands, along with investments required to achieve that goal.

Research showed that by intensifying existing and poorly managed pastures, the livestock sector would be able to capitalise on growing demand while reducing the need for more land conversion in the Amazon.

To achieve that, the government offered subsidised loans through the Low Carbon Agriculture (ABC) programme, offering credit for farmers willing to restore their degraded pastures, so limiting the need to clear natural vegetation.

At the UN climate change meeting in Glasgow, Dr Silva will give scientific advice to support discussions on sustainable intensification routes, and the evaluation of the success and the future of the ABC program.

The event will bring together scientists, government representatives and beef cattle producers.

Brazil faces the challenge of reconciling international commitments on greenhouse gases, biodiversity conservation and maintaining economic growth in the agricultural sector through meeting global beef demand. This is taking place as other countries support reduced red meat consumption.

The agricultural and particularly the land use change sectors are central to COP26 negotiations as countries put forward their net zero greenhouse gases emission targets. In the case of Brazil, deforestation in the Amazon and beef cattle are major contributors to Brazilian emissions. But simply reducing meat consumption is not always the best solution; there are ways to reconcile deforestation and production with sustainable practices that avoid land conversion while sequestering carbon.

I am glad to bring my knowledge and experience to bear on this important issue at a global event. Now is a critical moment for the future of sustainable livestock and COP26 represents a valuable opportunity to make key decisions.

Dr Rafael SilvaChancellor's Fellow, Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security

Related links


Why raising cattle isn’t the whole story of deforestation