2. Main challenges
The main challenges that are of relevance to AU-IBAR include:
- How to improve understanding of the complex issues of natural resources management in livestock systems, as well as in marine and inland fishing, to provide critical information to stakeholders and guide programming.
- How to reduce pressures on and facilitate programs to support sustainable use (including economic valuation and conservation) of Africa's livestock, fish (marine and inland) and wildlife resources and the resource base they depend on.
- How to analyse and catalyse the development of coherent and compatible policies across sectors and countries on animal resources and their resource base.
- How to identify, analyse and avail best practices to strengthen the capacities of Member States, RECs and other stakeholders to improve their ability to cope with and mitigate the adverse effects of environmental variability (including climate change) and associated conflicts, especially on vulnerable groups.
For transboundary resources (nomadic livestock, fish and wildlife), a specific supranational governance dimension is required, with additional complications in determining sustainable resource use levels and enforcement instruments. Moreover, maintenance of biodiversity is in the long-term best interest of global agricultural production, providing the genetic diversity which is critical for productivity improvements and diversification in a range of environments. Good management of natural resources is therefore important for economic, socio-political and environmental reasons. Global environmental developments, including the call for a worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the conservation of biodiversity, underline the importance of environmental functions of African agriculture (biodiversity conservation, watershed management, carbon sequestration, landscape management), and provide opportunities and options for additional positive economic valuations. Premiums in international markets for sustainably produced materials (natural foods and other products) and the worldwide increase in agro-ecotourism (and opportunities at the livestock-wildlife interfaces) provide international opportunities and incentives to change resource use patterns towards more sustainable ways. In addition, to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Africa will have to achieve drastic increases in productivity. Much of the past animal production growth on the continent has been achieved through increased herd and flock sizes, particularly through the extension of pasture land. Expansion of fishing grounds has also been the main contributor to increased fish production. An acceleration of total factor productivity growth, implying increasing animal and labour productivity levels,
will be required in the next decade to intensify production. While ruminant livestock provides perhaps the only means of using the vast marginal lands of Africa, there are potential negative impacts on natural resources (land, water and wildlife) and consequential reductions in overall system productivity. For a positive impact on food security and rural poverty alleviation, this productivity growth will be especially important among smallholder producers.
Creating awareness about these challenges and opportunities and facilitating access to appropriate interventions – technological as well as policy options – is a major opportunity for AU-IBAR. Fortunately, there is increasing awareness by Member States, RECs, the international community and key stakeholders of the vast natural resources of Africa (as assets for both Africa and the rest of the world) and also the complex interaction between animal production and the environment and the need for actions to support sustainable use of agricultural diversity and the natural resource base on which future agricultural production depends. There has also been increased interest by development partners in the development of tools and approaches that will increase resilience against drought and enhance food security for pastoral communities.