This paper presents the current situation of the global poultry sector and future trends, and discusses the challenges the sector is facing, with particular emphasis on four areas: food security, social challenges (poverty alleviation and equity), health (animal and human) and environment (natural resources and climate change). Poultry makes a substantial contribution to food security and nutrition, providing energy, protein, and essential micro-nutrients to humans, with short production cycles and the ability to convert a wide range of agri-food by-products and wastes into meat and eggs edible by humans. Poultry is the fastest growing agricultural sub-sector, especially in developing countries. The global poultry sector is expected to continue to grow as demand for meat and eggs is driven by growing populations, rising incomes and urbanisation. In this context, the sector is facing unprecedented challenges. Particularly for small holders and the poor, both in rural and urban areas, poultry is a major asset and key to poverty alleviation, providing income and market participation. Birds can be sold in times of crisis and act as household insurance. But the growing market is essentially benefiting large scale operations and access to market is critical for small holders. However, poultry represent a threat to human health, especially as a vector of infectious diseases and because of its role in antimicrobial resistance. Furthermore, poultry has a significant impact on the environment and is a large consumer of natural resources. While the sector is usually seen as efficient in converting natural resources into edible products, it uses large amounts of land, water and nutrients for the production of feed materials and contributes to climate change, mainly through feed production, and air and water pollution.