Background note on Sustainable Pastoralism and the Post 2015 Agenda. Opportunities and barriers to pastoralism for global food production and environmental stewardship

United Nations Environment Programme (2014-05)

Pastoralism—extensive livestock production in the rangelands—is one of the most sustainable food systems on the planet. Pastoralists are stewards of more than a quarter of the world’s land, conserving rangeland biodiversity and protecting ecosystem services. They produce high quality milk and meat that are healthier and have lower environmental impacts than similar products from intensive systems, as well as other high value products like fiber and leather. Pastoralism is practiced by between 200 and 500 million people worldwide, encompassing nomadic communities, transhumant herders, and agro-pastoralists, many of whom are facing similar challenges in both developed and developing countries. Progress in pastoral areas generally falls behind that of other communities, creating poverty and vulnerability that undermine the sustainability of the system. Enabling conditions are needed for pastoralism to fulfill its potential in the Post 2015 Agenda.

Background Document