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December 3, 2021

United Nations Food Systems Summit: The Canadian Beef Perspective

Canada’s beef industry has an impressive and unique story to tell for its leadership in sustainability. The recent United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS)  provided an excellent global platform to amplify the beef cattle sector’s positive contributions towards the environment and healthy, sustainable diets. The UNFSS was a historic event aimed at driving solutions-orientated discussions and creating tangible goals to address issues such as hunger, climate change and food waste. The UNFSS included a pre-summit portion in the months leading up to the official event held in New York on September 23, 2021; the first Summit of its kind held by the United Nations in over 25 years. 

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) became involved through numerous engagements and pre-summit dialogues to build positive conversations surrounding the red meat industry, as plant-based diets continue to be incorrectly positioned as a climate change solution. The CCA also partnered with other sectors within Canada’s diverse agriculture industry to raise a united voice and was instrumental in encouraging increased engagement in the UNFSS from global livestock organizations. 

At the end of April, the CCA, together with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, hosted an independent dialogue series exploring the topic of, “Grazing Livestock: Building Sustainable Protein Supply Chains.”. The event brought together a diverse set of stakeholders  who were challenged to answer what’s next to build a more sustainable food system, what’s missing and where to look for improvements. The insight gathered from the sessions were formally submitted to the United Nations in advance of the Summit. 

In September ahead of the UNFSS, the CCA, along with 21 other Canadian agri-food production leaders, also released a multi-stakeholder statement to celebrate Canada’s achievements and commit to continue to advance the nation’s leadership role in the production of safe, sustainable and nutritious food. 

The CCA received a positive response from government officials and stakeholders on its leadership throughout the leadup to the UNFSS for for the beef sector’s solutions-orientated and collaborative approach. 

During the UNFSS, 218 multi-stakeholder led commitments to action and coalitions were founded. The 2030 Beef Industry Goals were registered as a commitment, demonstrating positive and clear messaging about the process to continually improve practices. The CCA was very pleased to hear the livestock industry highlighted in a speech from Canada’s leadership at the UNFSS, and appreciates the Government’s recognition of the industry’s work in sustainability. 

The speech given by H.E. Alexandra Bugailiskis, Canada’s Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), stated, “Canadian livestock producers are global leaders in sustainable production of protein with one of the lowest greenhouse gas emission profiles. Through sustainability assurance programs, Canada’s producers are demonstrating their commitment to further lowering their environmental footprint and making strong socio-economic contributions.”

The CCA will continue to build momentum on these important conversations. While a lot of work remains on sharing the good news story of Canada’s beef industry, the CCA is pleased to see the small shift towards a more positive narrative surrounding the livestock industry on the world stage and looks forward to continuing to engage in these conversations on a domestic and international level.


This article was first published in Volume 1 Issue 4 edition of ABP Magazine (November 2021). Watch for more digital content from the magazine on ABP Daily.

About the Author

The CCA is the national voice for Canada’s beef cattle industry representing 55,000 beef farms and feedlots. Visit www.cattle.ca

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