Pastoralism is globally significant in social, environmental and economic terms. However, it experiences crises rooted in misconceptions and poor interdisciplinary understanding, while being largely overlooked in international sustainability forums and agendas. Here we propose a transdisciplinary research approach to understand pastoralist transitions using i) social, economic and environmental dimensions, ii) diverse geographic contexts and scales to capture emerging properties, allowing for cross-system comparisons, and iii) timescales from the distant past to the present. We provide specific guidelines to develop indicators for this approach, within a social-ecological resilience analytical framework to understand change. Distinct systems undergo similar transitions over time, crossing critical thresholds and then either collapsing or recovering. Such an integrated view of multidimensional interactions improves understanding of possible tipping points, thereby supporting better-informed decision-making. The need for a paradigm shift in pastoralism science and policy is pressing. This research approach, including participatory methods, can provide the solutions urgently needed.
- 1172 Environmental sciences
- Grazing management
- 5203 Global Development Studies
- 615 History and Archaeology