International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition
Monday 13 May highlights
The conference was opened by the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, who called for greater recognition of the contributions that forests can make to the food security and nutrition of rural people.
Other dignitaries attending the opening ceremony included David Nabarro, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition; Gabriel Tchango, Minister of Water and Forests, Gabon; Mirna Cunningham, former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous People; Braulio de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity; and Vladimir Albertovich Lebedev, Head of the Federal Forestry Agency of the Russian Federation.
One major and readily available source of nutritious and protein-rich food that comes from forests are insects, according to Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security, a new study FAO launched at the conference. It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. Insect gathering and farming can offer employment and cash income, for now mostly at the household level but also potentially in industrial operations.
Other sessions included presentations and discussions on forests as a source of income for food security as well as the direct provision of food with introductions from Eduardo Brondizio, Professor and former Chair of the Anthropology Department, Indiana University and Felician Kilahama, Chair of the FAO Committe on Forestry. Peter Holmgren, Director General, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) talked about increasing food security and nutrition through ecosystem services and Patrick Van Damme, Tropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany, Ghent University, addressed the role of forests and trees on farms in sustainable diets.