Improve a livestock MRV system

Sadie S

The main trajectories for the development of livestock MRV systems in the coming years will involve:

1. GHG inventory improvements, including

a. Improvements in livestock population data
b. Moving from Tier 1 to Tier 2 approaches
c. Adjusting existing Tier 2 approaches to reflect trends in the livestock sector
d. Continuous improvement of Tier 2 approaches through regular updating

2. Development of intervention-specific MRV systems, including baselines

3. Integrating MRV of livestock emissions with existing livestock information systems

4. Integrating MRV of livestock emissions with MRV of other land-based and energy sources and sinks.

Broadly speaking, countries are likely to seek to measure progress in their NDCs through national GHG inventories, or by developing intervention-specific MRV systems, which may or may not be linked with national GHG inventories. Countries where stakeholders are able to make convincing justifications for investment in improved MRV, and where institutions in different sectors are able to collaborate smoothly, will make more rapid progress. While the benefits for national policies of moving to a Tier 2 approach in national inventories and of linking national inventories with MRV of progress in NDCs and specific mitigation actions are widely recognized, there is less agreement on acceptable practices or minimum standards for making the required improvements. Among a small number of experts surveyed, there was a consensus that the best available data should be used, that a Tier 2 approach using national data would be more accurate than a Tier 1 approach, and that emission factors should be periodically updated. Most experts agreed that while the IPCC Guidelines are a key reference for MRV systems, they give insufficient guidance for quantifying the effects of mitigation actions.

(Excerpt from Wilkes et al. 2017)

Continual improvement of Tier 2 inventories

The UNFCCC requires that national GHG inventories are transparent, consistent, comparable, complete and accurate, and submitted in a timely manner. For developed countries, inventory compilation should follow guidance in IPCC (2006). Guidelines for the preparation of developing countries’ national communications recommend that developing countries should use the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories (IPCC 1996) for estimating and reporting their national GHG inventories, and IPCC GPG and Uncertainty Management in National GHG Inventories (IPCC 2000), “taking into account the need to improve transparency, consistency, comparability, completeness and accuracy in inventories” (Decision 17/CP.8). In addition to these principles for inventory compilation, countries may also intend that national GHG inventories serve national policy objectives by reporting a precise trend in emissions over time (Wilkes et al. 2017). Continual improvement refers to the process of ensuring that national GHG inventories deliver these intended outcomes.

General guidance on making inventory improvement plans is given on improvement planning for the whole national inventory and for specific sources in capacity building materials produced by US EPA and UNFCCC (see Supporting Resources). Inputs to the elaboration of an inventory improvement plan for livestock emission sources may come from a variety of other inventory compilation activities such as key source analysis, documentation of data sources and methodologies, QA/QC activities or uncertainty assessment and from different sources, depending on who is involved in the inventory process and how.

Methods such as sensitivity analysis, key category analysis and uncertainty analysis can contribute to identifying priorities for improvement. An example of sensitivity analysis is provided in Inventory practice: Sensitivity analysis to prioritize improvements in Senegal. Inventory practice: Regional characterization of dairy cattle in New Zealand shows how using different data sources and methods to estimate the same emission source can inform decisions that improve the accuracy of inventory estimates. Beyond specific analytical methods, many countries use a variety of approaches to enable continual improvement, including:

In addition to preparation of specific improvement plan, continual improvement in livestock GHG inventories can also be assisted through linkages between inventory improvement and national research programs (Inventory Practice: UK’s GHG R&D Platform supports inventory improvements). Many other countries have also commissioned research on specific inventory needs, as shown in the number of countries reporting commissioned research as a source of data in Chapter 3.


Wilkes A, Reisinger A, Wollenberg E, van Dijk S. 2017. Measurement, reporting and verification of livestock GHG emissions by developing countries in the UNFCCC: current practices and opportunities for improvement. CCAFS Report No. 17. Wageningen, the Netherlands: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA). 

Institutional arrangements for continual improvement

Globally, large gaps in the availability and quality of livestock statistics are common. Above all, this impedes effective decision-making for investment in and management of the livestock sector. There are therefore potential synergies between improvements in livestock MRV and stakeholders’ needs for improved information in the sector. At the international level, the Global Strategy for Improvement of Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS) and the System of Economic-Environmental Accounting (SEEA) are major initiatives of direct relevance to livestock statistics. Both are translated into action plans at country level. The potential for linking these processes with MRV processes should be further explored.

Common constraints to improvement include weak linkages between inventory compilation processes and national data providers, and lack of funding for inventory improvement (see Chapter 3). Suggestions from participants at a “Workshop on implementing MRV to meet countries’ mitigation and sustainable development goals in the livestock sector” also illustrate the importance of political engagement, human resources and technical capacities (Text Box 41). Close collaboration between agencies involved in livestock inventory compilation and statistical agencies has been identified as an enabler of inventory improvement. Political and financial support for making inventory improvements are likely to be stronger where stakeholders are aware of how proposed MRV improvements contribute to policy goals in climate, livestock, environment or other sectors. Where suitable platforms do not exist, agencies responsible for livestock inventory compilation (whether researchers or officials) may need to consider other ways to engage relevant stakeholders in defining policy goals, identifying and justifying improvements and related investments. Involving the private sector in discussions on inventory improvement and strengthening research-policy linkages may be of particular relevance in some contexts.


Wilkes A, Reisinger A, Wollenberg E, van Dijk S. 2017. Measurement, reporting and verification of livestock GHG emissions by developing countries in the UNFCCC: current practices and opportunities for improvement. CCAFS Report No. 17. Wageningen, the Netherlands: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA).