Jeremy Hill – Dairy’s Global Impact and Importance

I said in Opening that I was sure we would look back at this Summit as a landmark event in the history of dairy and through the critical role that dairy must play towards global sustainability it needed to be at the centre of the global agenda. Under the Summit theme Dare to Dairy our various conferences have explored the role the dairy sector must play in providing safe sustainable nutrition and debated some of the issues the sector will face and challenges it must overcome to fulfil this role.

At the IDF Forum the key role played by the IDF was demonstrated through showcasing examples of our recent work and priorities. IDF is helping to shape the operating environment for the dairy chain through our priority focus on sustainability, nutrition, food safety & quality, and standard development. We often here the term “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”. IDF work on globally harmonised standards, guidelines and best practices such as lifecycle analysis, protein quantity and quality, biodiversity, animal care, and other important ‘measures’ enables management and improvements across the entire chain. These improvements deliver more prosperity to participants in the chain including farmers and smallholders; more access to dairy nutrition and better diets for consumers; less waste and more efficient use of land, water and other resources.

During the course of this Summit we have discussed the enormous significance of the dairy sector including the 1 billion livelihoods it supports through 150 million farms and 240 million jobs, the 800 billion litres of nutritious milk it produces and the 1 billion hectares of farm land it utilises. While more research, data and knowledge is needed at local, national and global scales to determine the combined socioeconomic and ecological impact of food chains, we can be certain that dairy will be an important component in sustainable food systems given its broad impact and magnitude of benefits. Suggestions that dairy consumption should be limited on environmental or nutritional grounds do not look valid given the balance of current knowledge, but significant improvements to efficiency and effectiveness of dairy chains can and should be made.

The Sustainable Development Goals should provide a common high level context to discuss the relevance and impact of dairy and through the work of the IDF in a wide range of multi-stakeholder collaborations mechanisms for the dairy sector to measure and drive progress towards the SDGs; national and local socioeconomic and ecological targets; and the business strategies, social responsibility plans and priorities of individual organisations in the dairy chain.
On behalf of everyone I would like to thank Jan Maarten Vrij and the rest of Organising Committee for such a stimulating Summit.