Centro de conocimiento pastoril

Newly published FAO booklet: “Innovative Pastoralism: Achieving productivity and sustainability for food security”

Supporting COAG 27 agenda item on FAO’s work on rangelands and pastoralism, and a proposal for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists

13/11/2020 -

The 27th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG), one of FAO’s Governing Bodies, had as the main theme “Sustainable Livestock for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. Among the key discussions in the agenda list was FAO’s work on rangelands and pastoralism, and a proposal for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP). The information paper on this agenda item submitted by FAO technical units to COAG highlighted the importance of pastoralism and rangelands in supporting livelihoods and enhancing nature-based services.

In support of COAG discussions on rangelands and pastoralism, FAO strategically produced an apprehensible booklet, “Innovative Pastoralism: Achieving productivity and sustainability for food security”,  that highlights the innovative nature of pastoralism as a system that works with variability to achieve productivity and sustainability for food security. The booklet acknowledges that, while deeply rooted in human history, pastoralism is by its very nature innovative. It is characterized by ongoing experimentation, adaptation, and acclimation to new challenges in a changing world. In fact, pastoralism has evolved for more than 10 000 years through ongoing innovations in husbandry practices that have enabled production to continue through shifts in resource distribution and availability. This is a valuable lesson for the much-needed evolution towards “farming with nature”, with largely untapped potential for income growth and employment in marginal areas.

This booklet: calls on the recognition and support of pastoralism and rangelands as key players to achieving the SDGs and supporting livelihoods in some of the harshest areas in the world. It also highlights better ways in which we can all support innovative pastoralism to realize its benefits both for the livelihood and the environment. In particular, the booklet points out that pastoralism boosts productivity through innovation and adaptability to diversify food production and achieve climate goals while protecting rangelands and ecosystems. When pastoralism is neglected, there are consequences noted such increased food insecurity, increased competition and conflict over limited viable land, and missed opportunities to speed up climate change mitigation and natural resource management.

Now, more than ever, support is needed for continuing innovation in pastoralism to meet productivity and sustainability goals. In pursuit of the UN Agenda 2030, developing technical and policy programs on pastoralism – nationally and internationally – will help in harnessing the benefits of pastoralism. This will also help to mitigate the negative impacts stemming from neglect of this useful production system. This apprehensible booklet highlights the identification of such an entry point in this entangled legacy, in order to help institutions effectively engage with the long neglected “first step” of understanding the logic of pastoralism.

For this process of innovation to carry on, pastoralists need more support to continue at the scale needed by countries for contributing to the SDGs. Pastoralist systems represent a strong vantage point for championing productivity and sustainability goals. Securing their future depends on a holistic approach that considers dimensions of productivity, ecological function, and socio-economic benefits at the same time.