Thanks to all who submitted your feedback on the goals. We received wide ranging comments on all three of the goals, and are working with people around the world to find wording that works in an international context, giving the flexibility for National Roundtables to contribute meaningfully from their area, but maintaining ambition.
It's worth remembering how we arrived at this point: In our strategic planning session in Chicago, back in May 2019, our membership was in full agreement that the next step for GRSB was to set Global Goals.
Having worked together for nearly ten years, our members felt that we had reached the level of maturity and trust that would be required and a stage in development that asked us to be moving the needle. Our network of National Roundtables are doing this directly around the world, and it's essential for us to be able to show the progress that they are making and translate this into a global picture and ambition for continuous improvement.
Despite the challenges that 2020 brought to many of our members, it was heartening to see the increasing level of commitment to GRSB, and the excellent levels of engagement across our working groups. This was certainly needed, as despite a decrease in anti-livestock reporting in global media, it is clear that those opposed to livestock were far from idle during 2020.
This year, the rhetoric is being ramped up again stronger than ever on a number of fronts. Human health, climate, biodiversity and land take are all areas being used to criticise livestock production systems, and the criticism is coming from highly influential quarters.
A lot of interests happen to align in this message, and together they do have the power to influence national policies around the world.
With global consumers further than ever from food production, it has become all too easy for well resourced opponents to spread confusing messages about where food comes from and how it is produced. In doing so, they can create antipathy towards animal source foods, much of which is based on skewed information.
I see it as an important part of our job to share a truthful and science-based narrative on the positive role that cattle production systems can play in human nutrition, in ecosystem services including climate, water and biodiversity and in the livelihoods of millions of people.
We can do this because of the examples we have: A global network of people committed to continuously improving how we produce, process and get beef to our consumers.
There are huge differences between our stakeholders, and undoubtedly there are disagreements, but our absolute strength lies in that commitment to improvement, and to finding constructive answers to challenges we face along the way.
This is as true of our goals as anything, we will certainly be able to find language that works around the world. It will take a little longer than we had originally planned, but we will get there. There may be individuals or organisations that cannot commit to the ambitions of the global industry, and that is to be expected. We define consensus as being an absence of sustained dissent from the majority of members. We cannot expect unanimity, though we may aspire to it.
Our conference will be an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the issues that members have raised, and put forward the solutions that we have been working on over the past two weeks. It is a chance for members to show their commitment to sustainability in the areas of the goals and demonstrate how they are already working in those areas.
National commitments are likely to use different wording and detail than GRSB's, but I know all of our national roundtables have identified the three goal areas as priorities, so I am confident that we will have consensus. We expect a final vote to be taken in early June and will be working intensively between now and then to ensure we have the most constructive input we can.
I am including some articles here from mainstream sources just to highlight the way that livestock and the issues of our goals are being talked about. It's easy to be caught up in our own community and forget that not everyones sees the world as we do.
During some conversations on the goals, it was pointed out to me that my concerns about the UN or other influential international bodies were seen as irrelevant by some of our network. A fair point. We can't be worrying about things that we as individuals, we cannot influence. But I think it is useful to know that there is an organisation working on your behalf so that you are not later faced with legislation that makes business impossible.
We can see it happening already, with proposed legislation in Colorado that would make livestock production unfeasible, and we can assume that this will spread over time unless there are concerted efforts to counter it.