With drought and disease showing the potential to devastate livestock breeds developed for concentrated production, traditionally bred livestock are gaining attention from conservationists and commercial interests. In this context, the role of Indigenous peoples in breeding these livestock across generations and in ensuring sustainable grazing is increasingly recognised. This recognition is the foundation of the growing movement for national and international rights for livestock keepers. Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs), through which communities can articulate their ways of life and practices of livestock breeding and sustainable grazing, are an emerging vehicle for asserting these rights.
In this context, Natural Justice participated in “Biocultural Protocols: An emerging approach to strengthening livestock keeping communities”, a one-day workshop hosted by the League for Pastoral Peoples (LPP) and the LIFE Network on 29th November in Karen, Nairobi, Kenya. Representatives from governments, NGOs, international organisations, and livestock keepers from six countries attended.
Jacob Wanyama (LIFE Network) presented on the history of the movement for livestock keepers’ rights and Ilse Kohler-Rollefson (LPP) shared general comments on pastoralists, the breeds of livestock that they have developed, and the highly sustainable and promising ways in which they use and conserve the areas in which they live. Mwai Okeyo (International Livestock Research Institute) presented on the incredible lack of diversity in commercially promoted breeds of cattle around the world, the susceptibility of these breeds to drought and disease in Kenya, the comparative advantages of indigenous breeds through these conditions, and the challenges in protecting indigenous breeds from replacement or cross-breeding.
Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) presented on the history of BCPs, their emerging significance and recognition in international law and policy especially in relation to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol, and the importance of participatory processes for developing BCPs. Two communities who have already developed BCPs, the Raika of Rajasthan, India, and the Samburu of Kenya, presented on their objectives, the experience of BCP development, and some of the initial reception to their respective BCPs.
The participants were then divided into working groups to discuss whether BCPs were appropriate for livestock keepers and how BCPs can become more practical. The day closed with the working groups affirming the potential for livestock keepers to utilise BCPs and action points including the importance of building linkages between various communities developing BCPs and increasing the number of BCPs developed to gradually increase the significance and usefulness of BCPs.