Pastoralists are often vilified as major contributors to climate change impeding effective and just solutions. They instead conserve the environment, reverse land degradation, and enhance climate mitigation and adaptation. During this Lab we learned how!
While remaining among the most affected by the linked effects of socio-economic and climate change, pastoralists have the potential to serve as vital allies for climate adaptation and mitigation. Yet, lumped together with industrial livestock systems, pastoralists are often vilified as major contributors to climate change impeding effective and just solutions.
In the upcoming COP 28 of the UNFCCC (Nov 30 – Dec 12), ILC will highlight pastoralists as leaders of climate solutions and give voice to an often neglected constituency. Critical to their success is secure tenure and improved governance of land. Remaining closely attuned to their environments, they serve as custodians to their lands, securing food and livelihood security, and offering several ecosystems services.
ILC hosted a Learning Lab (7 November 2023) introducing two cases from Central Asia that show how pastoralists conserve the environment, reverse land degradation, and enhance climate mitigation and adaptation.
WHAT WE LEARNED
- How successful partnerships can be forged between pastoralist communities and local governments to secure tenure and, in turn, mitigate the risks of climate change.
- How prioritising pastoralists’, and especially women’s, capacity development and governance can enable conservation at the nexus of land rights and climate change.
- How women’s leadership contributes to ecosystem restoration, and how this can be promoted.
- Why community based natural resource management is important for climate adaptation and mitigation.
- How ILC platforms support community driven decision-making and knowledge-sharing to harness the transformative potential of pastoralists to provide for people and the planet.
WE LEARNED WITH
- Elvira Maratova – Facilitator, Ecosystems Restoration Platform, ILC Asia.
- Hijaba Ykhanbai - Director of Environment & Development, Association Jasil, Mongolia.
With remarks from Kunduz Adylbekova, Facilitator of Central Asia Pastoralist Alliance (CAPA), Kyrgyz Jaiyty, and Terence Hay-Edie, UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP).
The event was moderated by Natasha Maru, lead for rangelands and pastoralists, ILC.
Did you know? 54% of the world's terrestrial surface consists of rangelands, but only 10% of National Climate Plans (as part of the Paris Climate Agreement) include references to rangelands - compared to 70% including references to forests.
COLLECTIVE GOVERNANCE OF PASTURE LAND IN MONGOLIA
Members of the Central Asian Pastoralist Alliance (CAPA), with the support of ILC and other donors and in close cooperation with national stakeholders, work to secure the tenure rights of pastoralist communities. In Mongolia there are more than 1600 Pastoralist Users Groups (PUGs), Forest Users Groups (FUGs) and Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Groups, representing 81600 households. They signed rangelands use contracts with local governments to secure rangelands use rights on over 30 million hectares of pasture land.
Collective governance through PUGs, FUGs and CBNRM Groups ensures sustainable and peaceful pasture use, and gives scope to adapt to changing environmental conditions through mobility and pasture access. Moreover, supporting pastoralists’ collective tenure is a win-win for governments as it is not only environmentally sustainable but also economically lucrative.
The contribution of our members
Learn how members of Central Asian Pastoralist Alliance (CAPA) and the National Engagement Strategies (NES) in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia have used Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) to conserve natural resources and biodiversity with the active participation of local stakeholders and by supporting their land rights lobbying efforts.
Fighting against the clock to restore pasturelands
Learn from Urmat and Aigul how climate change has had a significant impact on the health of their pastureland and how they responded to that.
The story of Guljan: Leadership knows no gender boundaries
In a small village nestled in the valleys surrounding the majestic Issyk-Kul Lake lives Guljan, an extraordinary woman whose life journey demonstrates the significant changes one person can bring about, even in the face of the most challenging circumstances.
A few years ago, her life took a major turn when she became a widow. She shouldered the responsibility of providing for her three children after the passing of the village’s experienced leader – her husband.
In a society where women are traditionally performing domestic roles, managing the household and raising children, Guljan's growth to a leadership role was truly revolutionary. She challenged social expectations, proving that leadership knows no gender boundaries. She combined deep-rooted village traditions of family connections and mutual support with forward-thinking perspectives. Under her guidance, the pasture committee grew to 14 members from 6, with 9 of them being women. The community implemented a rotation system for grazing lands across over 4,000 hectares, using a traditional assessment approach and focusing on restoring pastures through the sowing of pasture grasses on degraded areas and fencing them.
She combined deep-rooted village traditions of family connections and mutual support with forward-thinking perspectives.
In many places, like Kyrgyzstan, land decisions often come from outside authorities or centralized institutions. Guljan's story questions this top-down method, stressing the vital role local communities should play. Through the Central Asian Pastoralist Alliance (CAPA), supported by the International Land Coalition, her community took part in activities that strengthened their skills. They discussed national and regional land laws, getting the tools to make smart choices as responsible land stewards for the future. The steps improved land, enhancing quality and productivity with a 30% increase in grass regeneration. These changes created jobs, supported struggling families, and aided single women in three villages, empowering them with fair land access, understanding of rights, fostering independence for their future.
Through the Central Asian Pastoralist Alliance (CAPA), supported by the International Land Coalition, her community took part in activities that strengthened their skills.
In a world where many youth are attracted by city life, Guljan's story is also a source of inspiration on the importance of the transfer of knowledge to the next generation of herders. Moving to cities causes significant challenges for preservation of pastoral lands and sustainable resource management. Guljan's daughter chose a different path: she decided to remain in the village, serving as a bridge between generations, ensuring that the knowledge and practices initiated by her mother are carried forward. This benefitted 50 women-led families with improved livelihoods.
Her story reminds us that solutions often lie within communities themselves.
Guljan's story illustrates that communities have a unique perspective and a vested interest in protecting their environments. Empowered with knowledge and authority, they can become powerful advocates for land conservation and climate change adaptation. Her story reminds us that solutions often lie within communities themselves. Guljan's leadership, her dedication to sustainable land management showcases the power of local empowerment in addressing environmental challenges. Her story urges us to safeguard rural traditions and sustainable land management for the future. This case was selected as one of the most influencing and the community won the sustainable pasture management and pasture restoration award given by the Central Asian Pastoral Alliance in 2021.
(With thanks to Elvira Maratova, Facilitator of the Ecosystems Restoration Platform in Asia, for writing this story)