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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum


Social protection for building resilience of forest dependent people

In preparation of the side event on “Social protection for building resilience of forest dependent people” that will take place at the XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Durban, South Africa, from the 7th to the 11th of September 2015, FAO is launching an online discussion to gather views and experiences on the inter-linkages between social protection and forestry.

Forest dependent people are often located in remote and poor areas where livelihood opportunities are limited. They heavily depend on trees and forests in their surroundings for their food and nutrition security. Poverty, vulnerability, marginalization and social exclusion are among the major challenges they face. Poor rural households are constrained by limited access to resources, low agricultural productivity and poorly functioning markets, which reduce their ability to cope with economic and natural risks and shocks that threaten their livelihoods. In these contexts, forests often serve as a safety net to cope with crises, which can lead to the unsustainable management of forest resources.

What is the role of social protection in promoting and protecting the livelihood of forest-dependent people?

Existing evidence suggests three main roles for social protection to support forest-dependent people. Firstly, providing poor people dependent on trees and forests with access to social protection can strengthen resilience, allowing them to better manage the social and economic risks and environmental threats. Secondly, through direct income support, social protection can help alleviate extreme poverty, overcome food insecurity and increase productivity by stimulating local economy. Lastly, social protection schemes can also be used to directly increase the adoption of sustainable forest management practices.

There is a two way relationship between social protection and forestry that needs to be further explored to provide insights and evidence to policies and programmes aiming at forestry-based livelihood protection and promotion. Forests play an important role in the livelihoods and food security of forest dependent people, as by providing access to food, energy and income they help manage risks and reduce vulnerabilities, thus serving a socially protective function. On the other hand, social protection interventions can reduce poverty and increase resilience of forest dependent people, while fostering sustainable management of forests and natural resources.

The objectives of this online discussion that contributes to the preparation of a report for the side event are to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the potential synergies and conflicts between social protection and forestry;
  • Identify major social protection instruments that can promote a sustainable forestry development;
  • Share knowledge and experience on how to better coordinate and harmonize social protection and forest policies.

We are looking forward to hearing your views and experiences on these issues. You may wish to consider the following questions:

  1. What are the impacts of forest policy and programs on risks and vulnerability?
  2. What are the major sources of vulnerability for forest dependent people? What are the limitations of forest management policies and programmes in addressing them and how would these be best addressed by social protection?
  3. Which countries have social protection instruments and programmes that:
    - target forest-dependent people?
    - are implemented with the aim of promoting sustainable forestry among the poor?
    - are integrated with sustainable forest management programmes?
  4. What key factors influence the creation of synergies or conflicts between social protection and sustainable forestry? What complementarities can be utilized to optimize the effects of social protection on forestry management?
  5. What aspects of the global climate-change agenda present opportunities for harmonizing social protection and sustainable forestry policies? What are the key mechanisms for fostering coordination of and coherence between social protection and forestry policies?

We thank you in advance for your time, interest and support.

We look forward to a lively and interesting interaction/discussion.

Nyasha Tirivayi

research fellow at the UNU-MERIT (United Nations University)

The Netherlands

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