The demand for food from animal sources is expected to double by 2050, driven by population growth, urbanization and rising incomes. Demand in developing countries will account for the major part of the increase in both production and consumption of animal products.
As a result, competition for land and water is likely to be fierce, with potentially profound outcomes for both the environment and food security. Furthermore, it will be imperative to limit agricultural expansion into vulnerable ecosystems to avoid irreversible changes in the resilience of agroecosystems. Thus, a large part of the demand must be met by the “sustainable intensification” of agriculture.
There are many frameworks and methods for evaluating the environmental sustainability of farm systems. However, few of these initiatives are concerned solely with livestock systems, and these tend to focus on one or two areas rather than address all potential livestock-related environmental impacts.
Hence, to fully capture these impacts, a multidimensional framework is needed to underpin environmental impact assessments of livestock production, and of livestock value chains.
The authors aim to identify the key parameters included in sustainability or impact assessment methods, and whether these parameters differ between different sectors and objectives. The study concludes with recommendations on what features are necessary for developing a successful and comprehensive environmental assessment framework for livestock production.