GRID Polar Division News

Nomadic Herders' Initiative presented at the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues

18 May 2011: Kathrine Johnsen from GRID-Arendal co-hosted a workshop on Nomadic Herders’ Adaptation to Globalization: the Case of Reindeer Husbandry together with the Association of World Reindeer Herders, at the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples in New York. 

Among the speakers were Anna Naikanchina, Member of the UNPFII, Olav-Mathis Eira, President of the Saami Council, and Lars-Anders Baer, former Member of the UNPFII.

Pastoralists voice issues affecting their lives

The presentation and discussions focused on the loss of grazing land for pastoralists. A number of key messages and priorities for pastoralists emerged from the discussions, many of which will be tackled, in the case of Mongolia, through the Nomadic Herder's initiative:

  • The impact of cumulative effects of climate change and industrial development could cause the loss of grazing land and destroy, block or delay critical reindeer migrations between seasonal pastures, thereby jeopardizing the adaptive capacity of indigenous reindeer herders;
  • There is an urgent need to implement international laws on the rights of indigenous peoples into domestic and local legal systems, and  to ensure not only formal equality but equality in practice in the context of indigenous peoples and their rights to lands, territories and resources. This includes recognizing herders’ use and management of grazing land by identifying culturally adjusted criteria for indigenous land uses;
  • There is a need for undertaking a study on the impacts of land-use change and climate change on indigenous reindeer herders’ economies and land management;
  • There is a need to increase reindeer herders’ capacity in negotiating with developers competing for their grazing land – it beingpublic or private industrial development. Herders should also have access to free legal advice;
  • There is a need to increase the transparency in decision-making concerning land use and resource exploration/ exploitation. 

About the UN Permanent Forum

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which is meeting for its 10th Session between the 16th to 27th May, is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

Monday 23 May 2011