January 1997





Rome, Italy, 10-13 March 1997


Secretariat Note


The World Food Summit (WFS), Rome, 13-17 November 1996, adopted a Plan of Action which includes specific references to the multiple roles of forests and called on the forestry sector to contribute to ensuring "Food for All". In its seven commitments, the Plan contains recommendations which have many implications for the forest and forestry sector. This note presents the main implications for forestry of the WFS Plan of Action and suggests some areas on which the advice of this Committee is especially required.


1. In the last two years, in preparation for WFS, FAO conducted major analytical work and intensive discussions to examine the main problems and identify actions to enhance food security and poverty eradication through contributions from the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development sectors which are described in 15 technical background documents prepared for the Summit.

2. The World Food Summit adopted the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and a Plan of Action, both of which are focused on seven commitments (see Annex). Under each of the seven commitments, the Plan of Action stressed that forests and forestry were an integral element of actions towards the objective of "Food for all".


3. There are currently more than 800 million hungry people throughout the world and WFS declared this situation to be intolerable and that the number of undernourished people should be reduced to half their present level not later than 2015. The seven commitments enunciated in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security (see Annex) constitute the components of the Plan of Action in which action related to each of them is elaborated. It must be stressed that all sectors of rural development are called to full mobilization to work towards the goal of "Food for all" and the reduction of malnutrition. Forestry in particular is called all the way through the Plan of Action to realize its full potential to contribute on a sustainable basis to increasing food production and to ensure access of all to food at all times through income generation.

4. From the analysis of the WFS Plan of Action and, in particular, of its many references to forestry to ensure that the sector contribute fully to the implementation of the commitments, the following main implications may be derived:


Forest policies: More holistic and innovative forestry policies, strategies and programmes need to be developed in order to utilise fully the multifunctional character of forestry and to support national capacity-building efforts, principally in low-income food deficit countries (LIFDCs), with north-south and south-south cooperation. The new policies will be aimed at: optimising, in an economical, social and environmental manner, the forest and tree production of the main staple foods, fodder, fuel and other forest products contributing to food security; reducing the deforestation rate to prevent and control degradation and over-exploitation of natural forests in poorly endowed, ecologically stressed areas, and ensure the effective prevention and progressive control of erosion, pests and fires which can cause major damage to the natural resource base; encouraging conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, including those in marginal areas; increasing forest coverage in forest lands and promoting new and more agroforestry activities in farming areas; maintaining and developing the multiple contributions of forests, trees and forestry to food security through the conservation and sustainable use of land and water resources, including the protection of watersheds and as reservoirs of biological diversity; creating conditions which encourage stable off-farm employment and income derived from forestry-related activities, especially in low-potential rural areas; pursuing sound economic policies and land reforms that will permit foresters to earn a fair return from their labour, capital and management; formulating and implementing integrated, sustainable and participatory forestry and rural development strategies that reinforce the local productive capacity of foresters, including, among others, women and indigenous people.


Research and development: Decisive action should be taken, in cooperation with the public and private sectors, to strengthen research and scientific cooperation in forestry in order to: improve the understanding of the multiple roles of forestry ecosystems and their interactions with agriculture, fisheries and rural development; increase the productive potential and maintain the natural resource base to eradicate poverty and promote food security; promote viable technology transfer and extension services related to forest and the goods and services that meet the real local needs; stimulate programmes that will help identify the possibilities of bilateral and regional cooperation so that experience and technology information including local knowledge may be exchanged on a south-south and north-south level; strengthen national research centres; ensure gender perspective in research planning and implementation.


Training and education: Governments, in cooperation with the private sector and NGOs, shall enhance national capacity-building efforts, principally in LIFDCs, in order to strengthen forestry education, develop training skills and extension systems ensuring equal gender opportunities; develop technical and educational infrastructure in rural areas; promote access for all, especially the poor and members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, to basic education in order to strengthen their capacity for self-reliance; and support north-south and south-south cooperation among educational and extension and research institutions.


Target groups within the forestry sector: Develop programmes and projects aimed at improving the collection, dissemination and use of gender disaggregated data in forestry and rural development in order to ensure equal access, by men and women, to land and other productive resources through the effective implementation of land reforms and secure tenure and use rights; foster the social and economic revitalisation of the rural sectors; encourage and enable farmers, foresters and other food producers, as well as their organisations, to protect their rights and those of consumers.


Economic and financial aspects: The recent neglect of investment should be reverted and the optimal use of public and private investments should be promoted in support of forestry systems to the level needed to contribute to food security; innovative forestry policies, strategies and programmes should be pursued, with particular attention to their impact on vulnerable groups, small producers and forest-dependent communities, with due consideration for the role of and benefit to men and women; promote the development of rural banking and credit in support of small-scale forest-based enterprises.


5. The Committee may direct its attention and provide advice to member countries and FAO on the following

National forest programmes

  • new forestry areas of priority, orientations, approaches and mechanisms to be integrated in national and local agriculture, fisheries and rural development policies in order to enhance the mutually reinforcing interactions and synergies for sustainable development and food security. The following are some areas for consideration: a) participation and collaboration in the development of joint agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development activities including regional meetings such as joint regional commission meetings on agriculture, forestry and fisheries; b) incorporation of the main recommendations of the Plan of Action in the national forest programme process; c) more effective mobilization of public and private funds to enhance the direct and indirect contribution of forests to food security and poverty eradication with the participation of national and international agencies.

Wood and non-wood production

  • priority actions and activities geared to increased production and enhanced productivity of forest products such as food, fuelwood, non-timber forest products (fodder, medicines, etc.) and income-generating activities from forests, wood lands and trees, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas, LIFDCs, refugee camps and man-made emergency areas considering participatory approaches.

Forest resources and lands

  • continuous observation and analysis of changes in land use patterns and plans in order to prevent unsustainable use of former forested lands and to control degradation and over-exploitation of natural forests in poorly endowed and ecologically stressed areas; ensure the effective prevention and progressive control of erosion, pests and fires which can result in the degradation of the natural resource base; encourage conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, particularly in marginal areas; and promote increased agroforestry activities in farming areas.




Convinced that the multifaceted character of food security necessitates concerted national action, and effective international efforts to supplement and reinforce national action, we make the following commitments:

  • we will ensure an enabling political, social and economic environment designed to create the best conditions for the eradication of poverty and for durable peace, based on full and equal participation of women and men, which is most conducive to achieving sustainable food security for all;
  • we will implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times, to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective utilization;
  • we will pursue participatory and sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development policies and practices in high and low potential areas, which are essential to adequate and reliable food supplies at the household, national, regional and global levels, and combat pests, drought and desertification, considering the multifunctional character of agriculture;
  • we will strive to ensure that food, agricultural trade and overall trade policies are conducive to fostering food security for all through a fair and market-oriented world trade system;
  • we will endeavour to prevent and be prepared for natural disasters and man-made emergencies and to meet transitory and emergency food requirements in ways that encourage recovery, rehabilitation, development and a capacity to satisfy future needs;
  • we will promote optimal allocation and use of public and private investments to foster human resources, sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry systems, and rural development, in high and low potential areas;
  • we will implement, monitor and follow up this Plan of Action at all levels in cooperation with the international community.

We pledge our actions and support to implement the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

Rome, 13 November 1996