The following statement was issued by the participants of the virtual workshop on rangelands and pastoralism in Asia held on July 16, 2021
Pastoral Communities’ Territories of Life in Asia: Tales of Coexistence of Nature and People
Virtual workshop on rangelands and pastoralism in Asia
July 16, 2021
To acknowledge the vital roles of rangelands and pastoralism for human wellbeing and nature conservation and to support and bring greater recognition to the proposed International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP) in 2026, a virtual workshop on pastoral communities’ territories of life in grasslands/rangelands across Eurasia was held on July 16, 2021.
The workshop highlights that, rangelands and pastoralism are essential for millions of people worldwide, providing or contributing to livelihoods, food security, and cultural identity. Over half of the Earth’s land surface is rangelands, which are home to livestock. As rangelands are often among the harshest of environments, many pastoral communities have adopted a seasonal migration lifestyle in their ancestral territories to increase their resilience to natural challenges and sustain natural resources. As the late Dr. Taghi Farvar regularly noted, “the migratory practices of Indigenous Peoples are almost always de facto nature conservation strategies.”
We are participants of this virtual workshop endorsed by the IYRP Initiative, and we are committed to supporting this event for the benefit of rangelands and pastoralists in Asia. We note the importance of IYRP to increase worldwide understanding of rangelands and pastoralists for food security and environmental services and raise awareness among decision-makers at all levels, calling for enlightened and supportive policies to benefit current and future generations.
We are calling for the following actions on the cooperation among all stakeholders to support the IYRP in Asia:
- Strengthen customary institutions of pastoralists to support their role in conserving biocultural diversity, advocating for their natural resource and land rights, enhancing economic and ecological resilience of pastoralists, blending traditional knowledge and innovation, and providing mobile wellbeing services;
- Recognize the territorial/ecological integrity of pastoralists and their customary governance systems, and prevent fragmentation of their territories through recognition of territories and areas conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (ICCAs—territories of life at various levels;
- Invest in strengthening the socio-economic and ecological values and resilience capacity (e.g., seasonal migrations) as valid strategies to cope with climate change (SDG 13), contribute to combating desertification, restore degraded lands and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought, and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world (SDG 15.3); protect their Indigenous food production systems from contributing to food security (SDG2), provision of necessary mobile wellbeing services such as veterinary, medical and health (SDG 3) and mobile educational services with 100% coverage (SDG 4);
- Support pastoralists and their territories of life before, during, and beyond the IYRP;
- Expand experience sharing on community-based participatory management of rangelands by the Central Asia Pastoral Alliance and South Asia Pastoral Alliance for the support activities of local communities, pasture user groups, and associations to secure their rangeland use rights with equal participation of women, youth and marginalized poor in the management of grasslands and natural resources in Asia;
- Organize events, hold annual conferences and other activities and support exchange experiences and conducting special awards among Indigenous Peoples and local communities by implementing good practices on rangelands and pastoralists in Asia;
- Encourage the initiatives of countries of the region and ICCA Consortium to hold an annual conference with the theme of the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists and organize a series of seminars in significant population centers promoting the IYRP to encourage public and private stakeholders to increase their investment in and support for rangelands and pastoralists; and
- Support mobility as the most effective strategy for maintaining the ecological balance between rangeland capacity and animal husbandry-based food production in pastoral agriculture and increasing investment to processing and marketing community-produced food and developing mobile and distant services for pastoral communities in Asia.
Note: The workshop was co-hosted by the ICCA Consortium, the ICCA-GSI, GEF SGP (UNDP), and the collaboration of Regional IYRP Support Groups (RISGs) for the IYRP 2026, namely, East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, and Central Asia, and Mongolia. The high-level objectives of this inaugural event were to establish an Asia-wide learning network on rangelands and pastoralism, mainly concerning local and Indigenous pastoral communities’ territories of life, and to promote the IYRP 2026 ahead of its expected adoption by the UN General Assembly in September.