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French Agricultural Research organisations (INRAE), CIRAD, The World Bank

Optimising the multiple functions from livestock grazing systems to add value to grasslands while contributing to local development.

Printable PDF Version 
Workshop proposal
Printable PDF Version 
Call for poster contributions of case studies.pdf
Printable PDF Version
 Saskatoon Proceeding Workshop Multifunctionality of pastoralism 2018.pdf


One billion people in the world depend on livestock farming, and grazed grasslands cover more than 40% of the world land (WRI, 2000). The social-ecological systems that are Livestock-Grazing secure diverse functions contributing to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, including: nutrition and food security, rural income and savings, food trading and agro-industries, soil fertility and crop fertilizers, bio-based products, tillage and rural transportation, leisure, landscape, social relationship, medicine, etc. At the same time these systems face challenges related to their impact on the environment at both the local and global scale, especially regarding greenhouse gases (GHG) emission, biodiversity conservation and water cycle. Other social and economic challenges exist including adaptation to climate change; volatile financial markets; succession including the absence of youth to continue the work and access to technology and resources.

Delivering these multiple functions while addressing the challenges requires their qualification and quantification and an understanding of the trade- offs that are made under differing contexts to inform the choice of practice and policy put in place to optimise the outcomes sought.

The workshop will build on the previous three workshops held in conjunction with the International Rangelands Conference in Hohhot in 2008, Rosario in 2011 and Saskatoon in 2016 and will be supported by the World Bank, FAO, Global Agenda for sustainable livestock (GASL), the Livestock for local development (LIFLOD) network (supported by INRA, CIRAD) and the Pastoral Knowledge Hub. The workshop will be held in conjunction with the Joint XXIV International Grassland and XI Rangeland Congress in Nairobi (Kenya), 23-29 October 2021.

Workshop Purpose

The workshop purpose is to support and strengthen the value of grasslands within development pathways and enable stakeholders to make informed decisions, practice and policy by: making transparent the functions desired from livestock grazing systems from a range of stakeholders under differing contexts and identifying tools, frameworks and science to support the navigation of trade-offs.


Building on achievements to date

Livestock Grazing Systems (LGS) are complex systems, due to strong links between ecosystems, human society and animal management, and in order to identify where best to act to maximize positive outcomes a holistic understanding of system components and behaviors is required relying on following dimensions:

  • The agro-ecological, social and historical contexts within which livestock systems have developed;
  • Heterogeneous stakeholders having developed diversified knowledge about local ecosystems and having different expectations for livestock activities (economic returns, local product,
  • Ecosystem services, cultural symbols…) and for herder's families (viability, security, sustainability…)
  • A complex bundle of access and usage rights for natural resources, including land and water
  • A specific environmental policy and a body of collective actions
  • A complex network of livestock value chains specific to local products, traditional food habits, local commercial circuits or primary products flows oriented towards urban markets or export.

 During the Saskatoon workshop, a conceptual model (ontology[1]) of LGS was developed using an iterative process with multi-stakeholders (researchers, farmers, local community, and policy) to build model concepts, indicators, and simulation models relevant across a range of contrasting livestock biomes and contexts located on five continents. Four main dimensions emerged and were agreed: production, social, local development and environmental. Since the workshop, the ontology has been applied in 6 cases (Brazil, Argentina, Vietnam, Mongolia, Senegal, France) and found to be beneficial in: education of students; design of cases to consider the four dimensions and choice of research team, and a demonstration to policy of the complexity of LGS. Moreover, it can form the basis for future simulation models to explore the impact of "what if" strategies and scenarios across the system to identify trade- offs and synergies. In this way the full contribution of LGS will be made transparent and better guide policy design.

The proposed workshop aims to build on and gain approval for this work to put to the test and improve tools, practices and policies that can be applied to guide pathways that enhance sustainable local development. This relies on (i) linking international policy debates (Food Security; Climate Change; Biodiversity) to local stakeholders' expectations from livestock activities (ii) identifying, characterizing and articulating the different functions of LGS at different scales and in different agro-ecological and socioeconomic situations (iii) consolidating "innovation", "knowledge issues" and "efficient support actions" to progress towards sustainable strategies and projects for LGS.


This workshop will be built on case studies (oral presentations and posters), illustrating how multi-functionality of LGS is being understood, valued and addressed within the projects, and how they are supported – or not – by current public/policy actions. These presentations will rely on the international network of field sites of GASL, LIFLOD and the World Bank, and on an open call for other contributions. The presentations will be used as a catalyst to inform participatory sessions where debates involving several actors from the different terrains will allow for greater learning from different world views and deeper reflection and identification of concrete propositions. Participation is opened to all IRC-IGC attendees and speakers will be selected among academic, development, NGOs, policy, and private sector representatives. Material describing the work to date will be pre-circulated to attendees.



The workshop will last 2 days October 23rd and 24th 2021

Session 1 (Saturday October 23rd, 9.00 - 13.00): Open presentation of guidelines / frameworks to assess multi-functionality. Presentation of case studies on the multi-functionality of LGS, knowledge available and gaps; and the ways this knowledge is integrated (or not) in development projects and simulation models. Presentation of posters.These presentations will cover a diversity of local situations and their contexts regarding global level. So, the main objective is describing the variability and dynamic of functions and values of LGS, as well as the diversity of the stakeholders involved.

Session 2 (Saturday, October 23rd, 14.00-17h30): working groups on a "world café" basis:

  1. To illicit the relationships within and between the dimensions to allow construction of dynamic models such as simulation models to explore scenarios across the system and to identify trade- offs and synergies;
  2. To understand how stakeholders view the different dimensions of the multi-functionality that are critical for strengthening the future of LGS, and from this identify how public policies can enable these situations.

Session 3 (Sunday, October 24th, 9.00- 13.00): Synthesis of the working group sessions. Requirements for new concepts and knowledge for project design, management and guidelines for development projects, integrating modelling and stakeholder's policy analysis

Session 4 (Sunday, October 24th, 14 h00-17.00): Wrap up of the workshop. Next steps for a collaborative program.


  • An inventory and description of values, functions and indicators related to LGS in contrasted agro-ecological and socioeconomic contexts at different levels;
  • A conceptual model and methodological proposals to define, qualify, quantify and integrate these values in a global approach for grazing system management;
  • A framework to structure conversations with stakeholders on values, functions and trade-offs;
  • Guidelines and examples of tools (simulation models) for identification of policy options incorporating multi-functionality
  •  Key-elements for a research agenda supporting LGS development, for a better articulation between local and global stakeholders' strategies;
  • Booklet of posters/presentations of case studies.