The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that improving animal health should be an integral part of the strategies aimed at food security and sustainable development in the context of climate change.
In its Strategy – Animal Health and Climate change – to tackle the complex relationship between food security, sustainable development and changing climate, the FAO said that impacts of climate change on animal health and the spread of pathogens should be reduced as the majority of emerging diseases have an animal origin. It said that changing climate can have devastating impacts on the health of animals and also affect disease patterns, making outbreaks harder to control. Livelihoods that depend on animals are becoming less secure as a result, it said.
The FAO said that t6he direct impact climate driven fluctuations in environmental conditions such as droughts, fires, floods, heat stress and unpredictable weather influence the physiological and immune responses in livestock are the direct impacts. The stress caused by these factors was difficult to control and can affect animal production and public health, safety of foods and disease burdens from bacteria, parasites, and their vectors, the FAO added.
An indirect impact of climate change is that it affects incidence, spread and predictability of animal diseases. The UN organisation maintains that improving animal health reduces emission intensity. It also enhances resource use efficiency by reducing mortality, and improving productivity and fertility. Fewer animals are then needed to meet demands, it said.
Animals are more resilient than crops to adapt to marginal conditions and withstand climate shocks.
- However, a range of endemic and epidemic animal diseases hamper the ability of the livestock sector to fulfil its potential for climate change resilience and adaptation.
CALL FOR ACTION
- Strengthen and expand global and national platforms, policies, infrastructures and tools to prevent, prepare and respond to animal health-related emergencies triggered by climate change.
- Promote research to enhance the ability to forecast future animal health threats caused or exacerbated by climate change,
- Promote innovation and technology in animal health and strengthen surveillance for managing the threat of emerging diseases under climate
- Strengthen national veterinary systems, focusing on countries projected to be more vulnerable to, or at risk of, the impacts of climate change
- Pursue a One Health approach by promoting the inclusion of animal health packages in FAO and partners’ initiatives and projects aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change
- Ensure options for addressing animal health, which will also address climate change
- Build partnerships engage the private sector, and strengthen international collaboration for a global response to the climate challenge and related animal health threats.