Thinking beyond the canopy

Discussion forum 1. Forests, food and nutritional security

Focal Point: Abdon Awono/Terry Sunderland
Organisation(s): CIFOR
Contact details: CIFOR, Central Africa Regional Office, P.O. Box: 2008, Yaoundé, Cameroon; Tel: +237 22 22 74 51/ 22 22 74 49; Email:


Too often food security is measured simply in terms of food energy production, overlooking that by definition, food security includes secure access to the foods needed for a nutritionally balanced diet. In fact, the FAO has estimated that there are 900 million food insecure (or undernourished) people in the world. Food and nutritional security is an increasingly important aspect of international forest research because the majority of the world’s remaining biodiversity exists outside of protected areas; often in complex, multi-functional landscapes and because large numbers of the world’s food insecure people live in, and adjacent to, tropical forests. It is time to acknowledge the essential contributions that forests make to the sustainability of nutritionally balanced food and agriculture systems of the world. This symposium will discuss the role of forests in the contribution to food security and nutrition with a focus on West and Central Africa.

Key questions the panel will address

  1. What role can innovative agriculture in the Congo Basin play on global food security?
  2. Is the potential contribution of non timber forest products to food security well known?
  3. What impact can climate change have on food security in the context of low technology?


  1. Keynote speaker: Lazare Essimi Menye, Cameroon Minister of Agriculture
  2. Respondent: Zac Tchoundje, ICRAF
  3. Respondent: Stefan Hauser, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
  4. Respondent: Sven Walter, The Global Mechanism, Programme Coordinator
  5. Respondent: Bronwen Powell, CIFOR
  6. Respondent: FAO representative (To Be Confirmed)

Background reading

  2. European Technology Platform Plants for the Future: Strategic Research Agenda 2025. Part II; EPSO: Brussels, Belgium, 2007.