Focus on sustainability at World Dairy Summit 2010
The IDF World Dairy Summit, taking place in Auckland, New Zealand from 8 to 11 November 2010 (WDS2010), will focus on environmental sustainability in the international dairy sector. The IDF press conference on 8 November will focus on how the dairy industry is committed to producing safe and nutritious products sustainably. A dedicated conference on environmental issues on 11 November will present updates on the latest research, including climate change, carbon footprinting, water footprinting and reuse/recycling.
Sustainability will be a key element of all WDS2010 sessions. Dr Hans Jöhr of Nestlé, a co-founder, former and now honorary president of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, will discuss sustainability and the dairy supply chain in the 21st century during a two-day conference on ‘Dairy Policies and Economics’ that follows the main theme of WDS2010: ‘Natural Inspiration’.
Dr Jöhr will focus on sustainability through food security and the high nutritional value of milk, with a clear emphasis on sustainability at farm level, because that is where the highest impacts, such as water footprint, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), etc., are to be found. In order to improve, a farm must be assessed in a holistic approach on environmental, social and economical aspects, all of which are equally important to ensure long-term, sustainable production.
Kicking off the environment conference on 11 November, Prof. Martin Manning, director of the Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, will give an update on the current state of climate science from a UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) perspective.
He will discuss the growing emphasis on risk management in both climate change science and the private sector, and give details of the GHG scenario that was designed to achieve the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) target of limiting global warming to 2ºC.
“The global dairy sector is steadily improving its efficiency and is expected to be a major factor in the world’s future economical development. However, to be sustainable, this sector needs to become adapted in ways that are consistent with the increasing pressures on our environment and threats to its stability,” explains Prof. Manning. “Two key factors for this are the need for better approaches to water management and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
However, he points out that the GHG emitted by agriculture and the manufacturing industry are quite different when considering future climate stabilization. CO2 produced from fossil fuel energy sources remains in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, whereas methane from livestock is almost completely removed by natural processes in a few decades.
Following up on the water issue, Dr Sven Lundie of PE International will provide delegates with an in-depth understanding of the water-accounting approaches which are based on Life Cycle Assessment methodology, and will outline the key concepts for calculating ´water footprints´.
“The dairy sector needs to improve with respect to water usage,” says Dr Lundie. “A first step is to measure and monitor water usage, which allows us to assess water consumption based on robust methodology, and from there to develop improvement strategies. Like carbon footprint methodology, there is a need for a consistent global approach that is in line with international standards. In many ways, water usage is potentially more important than carbon emissions, as water – or lack of it – can have a direct and immediate impact on peoples’ lives.”
The IDF, and the global dairy sector, clearly recognizes the seriousness of the environmental challenges it faces, but through initiatives such as the Global Agenda for Action on Climate Change it is moving forward with concrete programmes that are providing tangible results.
During the week of WDS2010, the dairy industry’s progress on sustainability worldwide will also be demonstrated in a dedicated ‘Sustainability Area’ displaying a selection of the 314 examples of sustainability initiatives across the sector collected in the ‘Green Paper’.