PBC/ECOSOC: The impact of cross-border transhumance on sustainable peace and development

Statement by Ambassador Odd-Inge Kvalheim at the Joint PBC/ECOSOC Meetibng on the Impact of Cross-border Transhumance on Sustainable Peace and Development in West Africa and the Sahel, 3 December 2019.

I thank the co-chairs for organizing this joint meeting of ECOSOC and the PBC.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen;

All UN efforts to support countries and regions must take the unique situation on the ground as a point of departure. Whether it is efforts to prevent conflict, peacekeeping, humanitarian support, building peace or supporting sustainable development.

This joint meeting, chaired by the President of ECOSOC and the Chair of the PBC, is an important occasion to underline how important it is that these different forms of UN engagement are seen in conjunction.

We therefore appreciate this opportunity to enhance our understanding of the impact of cross-border transhumance on sustainable peace and development in West Africa and the Sahel.

In many of the areas where the UN is engaged, we see how important it is that building peace goes hand-in-hand with support for sustainable development.  Norway believes that the UN reform – aimed at building stronger coherence and cooperation at the country – and regional – level, is of key importance in this regard.

It is also crucial to acknowledge that different actors have different, but compatible roles. The UN and other multilateral actors need to ensure close co-operation with regional and sub-regional actors with historical knowledge and longstanding engagement in transnational cooperation and conflict resolution in West Africa. More strategic cooperation towards shared goals will make our efforts even stronger. Norway strongly supports the efforts of the AU and ECOWAS in the region, and has a long-standing cooperation on capacity building with these organizations.


Dear colleagues,

I thank the speakers for their interventions. In particular, for reminding us that cross-border transhumance is historically the backbone of the political economy of the region.

It is vital that any discussion about the role of transhumance also acknowledges its many positive aspects. It is an intrinsic part of the cultural heritage in many parts of Africa, not least in the Sahel. Transhumance is a legacy that we respect, and need to protect.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Cross-border transhumance sometimes causes conflict between pastoralists and farmers, due to scarce water resources and diminishing fertile land. In this regard, it highlights the close relationship between climate change and the potential for conflict – a potential we see growing also in other regions of the world. Climate change is a global challenge with severe consequences for some local communities.

Norway shares the deep concerns expressed in regards to the deteriorating security situation in parts the Sahel and Lake Chad regions. The reasons for broader instability are multifaceted and complex. Solving them requires a determined and comprehensive response from the states - and peoples - of the region, as well as from the broader international community.

It is over own experience, through engagement in a multitude of mediation and facilitation efforts around the world; that actors with local knowledge and regional networks are often best placed to facilitate peace. Norway, as part of the international community, stands ready to support.

Norway is a consistent partner towards sustainable peace and security in the region. Over several years we have increased our support for peacekeeping, conflict prevention and development aid to promote stabilization, democratic governance and improved living conditions, - in addition to life-saving humanitarian assistance. Our development assistance to the region has a special focus on education, food security, climate resilient agriculture, improved governance and reproductive health.

Norway is committed to maintaining our engagement in MINUSMA. We have participated in the multinational rotation of military aircrafts since 2016.

We have also established a special police team of five Norwegian police officers, to help build criminal investigation capacity in Mali’s police. In addition, Norway supports civilian components of the regional G5 Sahel Joint Force, in the areas of human rights and humanitarian law. Improving good governance and confidence building between state actors and the populations is an important part of the peace building efforts.

Security can only be a part of the solution. If we see our efforts through security lenses only, we will not succeed in laying the foundations for stability and long-term development.

The UN has a key role to play. Including through the PBC, which has the ability to act as a bridge builder between the security and development silos.

Norway believes that the link between the PBC and ECOSOC should be further strengthened, and we hope that the 2020 review of the peacebuilding architecture will lay the ground for a stronger cooperation.


Dear colleagues,

Results on the ground should always be the litmus test. Several UN agencies are already heavily engaged in the region. Norway commends the important regional work done by UNOWAS and the Peace Building Fund.

Norway looks forward to continue the dialogue on this important issue. Particularly in the framework of joint work between PBC and ECOSOC.

We must address both the sustainable peace and development aspects of cross-border transhumance to be successful in ensuring real impact in the livelihoods and security of the people of West Africa and Sahel. In this process, all aspects of cross-border transhumance need to be taken into consideration.


Thank you for your important initiative in this regard.