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The paper “Rush for the “wastelands”: revaluing pastoral land in the light of renewable energy”(2022) (Green energy + pastoralism paperPowerpoint slides) by Ann Waters-Bayer and Hussein Tadicha Wario, was based on a study commissioned by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Germany. It looked into how large-scale green-energy projects affect pastoralists and is meant to:

  • stimulate policymakers to shape the expansion of green-energy production in the rangelands so that it does no harm; and
  • help pastoralists and wider civil society become better prepared to deal with this expansion.

National governments used to regard the rangelands as marginal, low-potential or even empty wastelands. But now the global climate crisis and the need to make a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is putting the spotlight on the vast areas where this can be produced – the rangelands. In many countries, these areas have been used for generations by pastoralist peoples. The ventures into renewables often ignore the rights of these traditional land users and offer them little or no compensation or benefits when the land is converted to alternative use.

The study focused on large-scale land acquisition to invest in solar and wind power. One of the cases examined was the Lake Turkana Wind Power project in northern Kenya. The paper presented at the 2022 symposium organised by the Society of Range Management (SRM), USA, discusses issues of climate justice and human rights and explores possibilities of co-existence of pastoralism and green energy.