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Event Recording: Global villain, local savior? What's the role of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa?

A flyer for the event “Global villain, local saviour? What’s the role of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa?” on March 28 at 4pm GMT and co-hosted by Cornell Food Systems & Global Change and TABLE. The image is a beige background with grey waveforms on the bottom and a cubic animation of a cow.

This event was hosted by TABLE and Cornell Food Systems & Global Change on 28 March 2024 and took the format of a panel discussion with:

Dr Tara Garnett (director of TABLE);

Mario Herrero (Cornell University);

Laura Cramer (ILRI);

Guyo Roba (ILRI) 

An Notenbaert (CIAT Kenya).

Summary coming soon!

Here is a non-exhaustive list of resources mentioned during the event and referenced by the panelists during pre-event planning:

Please contact us if you attended the event and have resources to share that are missing from this list.

Livestock is one of the most polarised food systems topics, in part because different sectors, disciplines and geographical regions view livestock’s role and impacts in very different ways. While global trends in livestock production are clearly unsustainable, at a local level, livestock can be crucial in supporting livelihoods, as a source of nutrition, in maintaining certain ecosystems and as a climate adaptation strategy. For this reason, even within organisations, we see both areas of agreement and difference in how livestock are viewed and discussed, depending on their assumptions, local and regional perspectives and focus.

This 90-minute moderated panel discussion, co-hosted with Cornell Food Systems & Global Change, will bring together four speakers who focus on livestock from both the sub-Saharan African and the global perspective, each with different experiences and goals in mind. The discussion will look at what these panellists see to be the role, functions, harms and benefits relating to livestock in these different contexts with a view to identifying areas of consensus and disagreement as well as what needs to be explored further. Their differing views are shaped by the evidence they have seen through their work--but also by affinities for different kinds of evidence (experiential, experimental and scientific, traditional). Through this event, we hope to start an ongoing conversation that can shine a light on these different perspectives and start to reconcile the conflicting roles--villain, saviour--in which livestock are cast.


  • Mario Herrero, Cornell University

  • Laura Cramer, ILRI

  • Guyo Roba, ILRI

  • An Notenbaert, CIAT Kenya

Headshot of Mario Herrero

Mario Herrero is a professor in the Cornell CALS Department of Global Development, the director of Food Systems & Global Change, a Cornell Atkinson Scholar, and the Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences. His research focuses on increasing the sustainability of food systems for the benefit of humans and ecosystems. He works in the areas of food systems and the environment, climate mitigation and adaptation, livestock systems, true cost of food, sustainability metrics, and healthy and sustainable diets. Herrero is a highly-cited researcher according to the Web of Science, and is in the top 10 of Reuters list of most influential climate change scientists.

Herrero has played senior roles in many global initiatives on food and the environment. Currently, he is a Co-Chair of the Food Systems Countdown Initiative, Coordinating Lead Author of the IPBES Nexus Assessment, a Commissioner and Executive Committee member of the EAT-Lancet 2.0 study, a member of the steering group for the global True Cost of Food Coalition, and he serves on the executive committee of the Global Burden of Animal Diseases program.

Headshot of Laura Cramer

Laura Cramer conducts research on science-policy interfaces as part of the Sustainable Livestock Systems program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). She also leads the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) theme on Policies and Priorities for Climate Smart Agriculture and is the Kenya country coordinator for the One CGIAR research initiative on Low Emissions Food Systems Development. Within the CGIAR research initiative on Livestock and Climate she leads the work package on improving the enabling policy environment. Her interests are in food systems policy and evidence-based decision making. Laura holds a master’s degree in international agriculture and rural development from Cornell University and is currently a PhD candidate in public administration and policy at Wageningen University.

Headshot of Guyo Roba

Guyo Roba is the Head of the Jameel Observatory in ILRI’s Policies Institutions and Livelihood Program in April 2022. Before joining ILRI, Guyo held several positions at diverse national and international organizations such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA). He is a natural resource scientist and a livestock market specialist by training, with over 12 years of professional experience in natural resources and drylands management and livestock value chain development. He is well grounded in rural development and food security subjects. Guyo holds a PhD in agricultural sciences from Universität Kassel, Germany, a master’s degree in energy studies from the University of Dundee, UK, and a bachelor’s in environmental planning and management from Kenyatta University, Kenya.

Headshot of An Notenbaert

An Notenbaert works at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT as the Team leader for the Africa Tropical Forages Program. An is a land use planner with a minor in Soil Science. She has 20+ years’ experience in Africa where she built a deep understanding of the variety of agricultural landscapes, production systems and their two-way interaction with global environmental change. Over the years, she gradually moved from spatial analysis towards multi-disciplinary system analysis. Using cultivated forages as an entry point, her work is geared towards supporting a food system transition that provides equitable benefits to people while conserving the natural resource base upon which they depend.

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