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POLISES Colloquium “Pastoralism in Transition”

by David

The concluding colloquium for the Junior Research Group POLISES, held in Leipzig from June 27-28, brought together researchers and practitioners interested in pastoral livelihoods in Africa and beyond. The list of 20 participants included landscape ecologists, anthropologists, and modellers, but also representatives of development organisations, lobby groups, and think tanks. We enjoyed a two-day workshop with concise presentations and plenty of room for debate and exchange to lay the ground for future cooperation and joint projects.

The workshop started Thursday morning with a presentation by the POLISES team. We focused on three key topics that emerged from our research: strategies to manage climate risk (notably: insurance), policies related to competing uses of rangeland, and pastoral livelihoods (including poverty traps and polarisation). After a first round of feedback and discussion, the guests took turns in presenting insights and open questions from their current projects. The afternoon was dedicated to further presentations followed by two group work sessions where we discussed criteria for a useful policy brief and then came back to the three key topics of the colloquium. We used the second day to intensify debates about rangeland ecology, the role of modelling in policy support, and concrete messages for a policy brief. Once again, this was accomplished in parallel break-out groups, followed by plenary discussions.

As an outcome of this productive exchange, we intend to write a joint “policy brief” type paper addressed at development organisations such as the German GIZ. It will emphasise the social, economic, and ecological importance of pastoralism (with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa) by explaining essential mechanisms and connections that are often misunderstood or neglected by current development policies.

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