As part of the Global Call to Action in Indigenous and Community Land Rights, this brief puts the spotlight on the need to secure land rights for the world’s pastoralists, as pastoralism is practised by an estimated 200-500 million people. Pastoralists manage rangelands that cover a quarter of the world’s land surface but have few advocates.
Indigenous and community lands are used, managed or governed collectively, under community-based governance systems, often based on longstanding traditions defining, distributing and regulating rights to land, individually or collectively. Pastoralists are one of the groups, along with farmers, hunter‐gatherers, fisher‐folk and others using resources such as forests, water bodies and pastures as a common resource.
Pastoralists rarely have secure rights to land and resources, due to a number of factors, from political marginalisation to the inadequacy of existing land and resource governance systems and structures that do not take the complexities of pastoral land use, which is usually communal, into account. As a result of this insecurity, pastoral lands and resources are being fragmented if not lost completely to other land uses.
Climate change is likely to cause increased variability and stress on natural resources –because pastoralists have developed resource management practices to constantly adapt to variability and stress on natural resources. In the context of climate change, pastoralists can therefore be effective resource managers. Securing pastoralist land rights can enhance this capacity, and many local and national initiatives are now supporting pastoralist development to effectively mitigate, adapt to and build pastoralist resilience to the impacts of climate change.