Theme 6: Pastoralism--Oral Sessions

Description

Pastoralism is a globally-important livelihood, with large social, environmental and economic importance across much of our planet. Yet, it is also a vulnerable practice with widespread crises, urgently calling for better systemic understanding. The current disciplinary compartmentalization of research not only hampers this but allows perpetuation of unfortunate misconceptions. Furthermore, a long-standing marginalization of the livelihood prevails, with pastoralism being largely overlooked in international environmental and economic forums or sustainability agendas.

Here we call for transformative approaches to pastoralism research that can advance an integrated understanding of these social-ecological systems through a comparative lens. We develop a framework that uses: i) timescales from the distant past to the present, ii)social, economic and environmental dimensions, and iii) diverse geographic contexts and scales, to capture emerging properties allowing for cross-cultural comparisons. We provide specific guidelines for formally developing a coherent set of sustainability indicators that are transferable across time and space, and can track sustainability. In an exploratory exercise, we also show that very distinct pastoralist systems have undergone similar transitions across time, approaching critical thresholds and then either collapsing or recovering. An integrated view of the interactions between the environmental, social and economic dimensions of these transitions allows for an improved understanding of potential tipping points, hence supporting more proactive and informed decision-making. We conclude that the need for a paradigm shift in pastoralism science and policy is pressing. Determining when, where and how is pastoralism not only sustainable, but also the most adaptive livelihood, has become a priority.

This paper is based on Manzano et al. (2021).

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Towards a Holistic Understanding of Pastoralism

Pastoralism is a globally-important livelihood, with large social, environmental and economic importance across much of our planet. Yet, it is also a vulnerable practice with widespread crises, urgently calling for better systemic understanding. The current disciplinary compartmentalization of research not only hampers this but allows perpetuation of unfortunate misconceptions. Furthermore, a long-standing marginalization of the livelihood prevails, with pastoralism being largely overlooked in international environmental and economic forums or sustainability agendas.

Here we call for transformative approaches to pastoralism research that can advance an integrated understanding of these social-ecological systems through a comparative lens. We develop a framework that uses: i) timescales from the distant past to the present, ii)social, economic and environmental dimensions, and iii) diverse geographic contexts and scales, to capture emerging properties allowing for cross-cultural comparisons. We provide specific guidelines for formally developing a coherent set of sustainability indicators that are transferable across time and space, and can track sustainability. In an exploratory exercise, we also show that very distinct pastoralist systems have undergone similar transitions across time, approaching critical thresholds and then either collapsing or recovering. An integrated view of the interactions between the environmental, social and economic dimensions of these transitions allows for an improved understanding of potential tipping points, hence supporting more proactive and informed decision-making. We conclude that the need for a paradigm shift in pastoralism science and policy is pressing. Determining when, where and how is pastoralism not only sustainable, but also the most adaptive livelihood, has become a priority.

This paper is based on Manzano et al. (2021).