Plateforme des Connaissances Pastorales

Securing land tenure for pastoralists as an incentive for engaging actively in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

IRC/IGC 2020 Concurrent session


26/10/2021 -

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a crucial initiative bringing forward pastoralists' role in rangeland restoration. The Decade seeks to reverse the degradation of ecosystems and strengthen the resilience of communities dependent on these ecosystems. Rangelands cover about 54 per cent of the world and are home to about 200-300 million pastoralists who depend on them for their livelihood. Thus, they are essential globally, nationally and locally regarding the extent and socio-economic impact.

Pastoralists can make the most of their herds in these unpredictable environments, which are integral to their traditional cultures —from Norway to Mongolia to the Sahel. They protect both the biodiversity and rangeland ecosystems, maintaining strong linkages of positive interactions. Through these positive interactions, pastoralists can build their resilience, reduce their vulnerability in some instances and increase the ability of their socio-ecological system to adapt to daily threats and extreme events.

Pastoralists face unforeseen challenges driven by climatic events and inappropriate policies that marginalize them and the rangelands. Climate variability and demographic pressures lead to degradation and loss of livelihoods and biodiversity in the rangeland ecosystems. In addition, the lack of consensus on defining rangelands contributes to assessment and monitoring gaps. The assessment gaps weaken the evidence to support sustainable management, securing land tenure and drive the assumptions of widespread degradation of pastoral lands.

The momentum for restoring rangeland ecosystems and environments is essential to improve livelihoods, provide positive economic returns and long-term benefits in climate change adaptation, biodiversity and enhanced ecosystem functions and services. On March 1st 2019, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021-2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to 'prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. During the same period (March 2019), a new resolution on rangelands and pastoralism was adopted by the United Nations Environmental Assembly in its fourth session (UNEA 4) for the first time calling for the restoration of rangelands on a par with the restoration of other ecosystems, such as forests.

Several UN policy frameworks, resolutions and policies on rangeland restoration can be leveraged and provide opportunities in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration for rangeland ecosystems. Securing land tenure and access to resources is an incentive for communities to engage in restoration and bring it to scale, thus playing an active role in the Decade of ecosystem restoration. This incentive will empower pastoralists to acknowledge their roles as the users and protectors of the rangelands. The FAO publication Improving governance of pastoral lands gives essential advice on strengthening and securing rural land globally following the FAO tenure-related guidelines and principles. More support to pastoralists is necessary for securing land and resource rights through investment to adapt to and build resilience to climate change impacts. They have practised this for centuries through their relationship with landscapes, ecosystems, and indigenous natural resource management methods.

 Strengthening, and creating better and more inclusive institutions and policies, including traditional institutions and formal organizations on land tenure and access to resources, is a more proactive approach to providing pastoralist communities support for rangeland ecosystems restoration and combating climate shocks.