SE133 Pastoral mobility and working animal welfare in a changing landscape: Why policies should support adaptive initiatives to facilitate mobility, resource access and animal welfare.


  • FAO
  • The Donkey Sanctuary
  • World Horse Welfare

Mobility is an important characteristic of pastoral societies and their livestock production. Historically interpreted as non-economic actors, pastoralists are an important part of widely valued local and cross-border trade, providing services and products as well as enacting natural resource management through strategies such as transhumance. Such strategies enable pastoralists to derive both agricultural and social benefits, while enabling economic sustainability and food security.

Moving with their herds, pastoralists are able to nurture a rich pool of animal and vegetal genes, to increase and preserve biodiversity and to improve soil fertility. They also develop social interactions with other stakeholders to gain access to markets where they sell animal-based products. Development of such links enables the labour and livestock migrations that are important for renewal within pastoral systems.

Key speakers/presenters

  • H.E. Mohammad Hossein Emadi – Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of I.R. Iran to the UN Agencies in Rome
  • Sibiri Jean Zoundi – Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat/ OECD
  • Michael Odhiambo – People, Land and Rural Development organization, Kenya   
  • Engin Yilmaz – Yolda Initiative, Turkey
  • Verdiana Morandi – RETE Appia Italy/ WAMIP
  • Rebecca Whay – The Donkey Sanctuary/ World Horse Welfare

Main themes/issues discussed

This side-event brought together leading actors and stakeholders to discuss issues related to legislation, policies and governance of pastoral mobility and working animal welfare.

Main issues discussed include:

The regional governance mechanisms and policy frameworks facilitating peaceful cross-border transhumance in the West Africa region and East Africa region

Pastoral mobility policies or regulation practices within the East Africa Region making reference to the on-going consultations of the draft IGAD protocol for a peaceful transhumance in the IGAD states

An overview of mobile pastoralism and its constraints in the Mediterranean region

Positive and negative interactions of mobile pastoralism and nature conservation

The importance of mobile pastoralism for food security of pastoral livelihoods

The consequences and impact of impeding mobility on pastoral production systems and animals

Understanding animal welfare in the context of pastoralism

Working animals’ important contribution to mobile pastoralist systems

Summary of key points

The side-event provided a greater understanding of pastoral mobility across the world; creating a forum for knowledge sharing on pastoral mobility experiences, policies, legislation and governance; highlighting the key role of pastoralist systems for the environment, food security and animal welfare.

Mobile pastoralism proves to be highly beneficial to the environment, regulating ecosystem services, and providing food in the world’s most fragile landscapes. With limited resources and use of local knowledge and experience, high quality and organic animal products are produced from this mobile system. Despite this, mobile pastoralism is in decline, not only in the Mediterranean region but also globally, due to fragmentation of landscapes.

Regional policies and mechanisms that facilitate and promote peaceful transhumance are key in securing pastoral mobility globally. The regional mechanisms in West and East Africa – including the draft IGAD protocol and the ECOWAS regional transhumance mechanism – show the progress being made to achieve successful transhumance across borders.

Amidst this, the dependence on working animals by pastoralists is immense. These animals contribute greatly to the work of pastoral women providing labor hence; their welfare is of key concern. Policies should be enacted to support adaptive initiatives that facilitate pastoral mobility, resource access and animal welfare.

Key take away messages

The different forms of pastoral mobility include: vertical mobility - from winter pastures in the valleys to summer pastures in the mountains – and, horizontal mobility – for example, from rainy season pastures in the northern Sahel to dry season pastures in the southern Sahel

Recognition and inclusion of pastoral mobility in national and regional policies and legislation is key for facilitation of peaceful cross-border transhumance.

A strong political will and a bottom-up initiative, from pastoralist organizations, are some of the major push factors for setting up regional transhumance protocols.

Statistics and evidence should support planning and implementation of transhumance protocols.

Governments need to enact policies and regulations on mobility to manage the interactions between pastoralist and non-pastoralist land users thereby, avoid conflicts and contain environmental degradation.  

Mobile pastoralism proves to be five times more beneficial to the environment; a growing evidence in the field of pastoralism studies supports this.

Working animals are important to pastoralist and especially pastoralist women as they generate security for livelihoods, provide labor and transport.

Working animals and pastoralist women are interdependent, yet they are both marginalized. It is essential to invest in working animals and their welfare, to recognize their value to pastoral economies and women.

CFS 46 Side Event: SE133 Pastoral mobility and working animal welfare in a changing landscape


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