Improving governance of pastoral lands
In 2012, the Committee on World Food Security endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). FAO, in collaboration with IUCN, issued a technical guide Improving governance of pastoral lands (2016, 140pp) to provide advice and examples of how to strengthen governance of tenure in a pastoral context, recognising the complexity of pastoral tenure arrangements and the diversity of pastoral societies worldwide.
Under “Rights and responsibilities related to tenure”, the VGGT note that “states should respect and protect the civil and political rights of … pastoralists … and should observe their human rights obligations when dealing with individuals and associations acting in defence of land, fisheries and forests.” Pastoralists are identified along with other “historically disadvantaged groups, marginalized groups”. The guidelines also explicitly mention the transboundary issues involved in pastoralism, one of the many unique challenges that pastoralists face in securing governance of land tenure.
The technical guide stresses the importance of customary governance as the cornerstone for securing pastoral tenure and the resilience of pastoral societies. It presents the arguments for herd mobility on different scales, from long-range nomadism to seasonal transhumance, to relatively localised herd movements. Mobility and communal tenure practices are responses to the uncertainty and heterogeneity of rangeland resources and, together, create complex customary tenure arrangements that require sophisticated responses from governments and other agents involved to uphold them. The guide points to solutions to securing pastoral governance and tenure without undermining the necessary complexity of customary arrangements, as well as solutions within a rapidly changing context in which traditional practices and patterns of livestock mobility are changing.