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21 January 2021

How to Feed the World in Times of a Global Pandemic and Climate Change

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Posted by Dirk Ehle  | 21-JAN-2021


This year, the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) conference, held in Berlin, Germany, focuses on how to feed the world in these challenging times of a global pandemic and climate change. This question is close to our hearts, writes Dirk Ehle, Executive Vice President for Elanco Europe.

Right now, people around the world are investing most of their time and effort in tackling the coronavirus and the economic implications the virus brings about in many countries. The challenges we face are local and global. According to the latest estimates of the United Nations , at a minimum, an additional 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, are on the risk to be hungry in 2020 related to causes triggered by the pandemic1.

Even though lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have contributed to a worldwide reduction of CO2 emissions last year, climate change is still a pressing issue that affets our livelihoods2. And just like the response needed to battle COVID-19, addressing climate change requires global collaboration and a clear agenda. While the coronavirus has devastating impacts on the health of our society, climate change has broad effects on the well-being of our planet.

Aligning responses to both challenges presents an opportunity to sustainably improve public health, create a sustainable economic future, and better protect the planet's natural resources and biodiversity. And I believe this all starts with healthier animals.

As the GFFA puts it, farmers are affected particularly severely by the negative consequences of climate change, as food production and livestock farming closely interlinks with the health of our nature3. In the long run, we can only protect the foundations of agricultural production if we succeed in achieving worldwide climate protection goals.

At Elanco, we believe animals are central to tackling global challenges like food security and environmental sustainability. Our approach to Environmental, Societal and Corporate Governance (ESG) is called our ‘Elanco Healthy Purpose’. This is a framework of commitments and actions that is focused on advancing the wellbeing of animals, people, and the planet, enabling us to realize our vision of ‘Food and companionship enriching life’.

With millions in the world unable to access affordable, nutritious protein – milk, meat, eggs and fish - the Elanco Protein Pledge is an active commitment to improve the efficiency and sustainability of every farmer we work with, improve the health and welfare of 3 billion farm animals and support and enhance agricultural productivity and income of 250,000 dairy and poultry smallholder farmers around the globe.

At the same time, our environment needs protection, too. Elanco commits to developing solutions that support customers to reduce their footprints, while also minimizing the company’s own emissions. Elanco’s Planet Pledge is a commitment to be customers’ lead partner on the journey toward net-zero emissions on their farms while transitioning to 100% renewable sources of electricity across the company’s operations. It’s also a promise to grow our product portfolio with environmental benefits and accelerate toward sustainable packaging.

Ultimately, the combination of Elanco’s Protein and Planet Pledges will help us drive a decrease in the global emissions intensity of animal protein by 2% by 2030, compared to business-as-usual.

Finally, the GFFA notes that to reduce emissions without jeopardizing global food supplies, we must find climate-friendly and, at the same time, economically viable solutions for food systems around the globe4.

Joint action is key, and we at Elanco commit to playing a role on the path towards food security for all.


1 FAO - News Article: As more go hungry and malnutrition persists, achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 in doubt, UN report warns

2 https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1079602

3 GFFA2021-Background-Paper.pdf (gffa-berlin.de)

4 https://www.gffa-berlin.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/GFFA2021-Background-Paper.pdf

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