UN agencies call for immediate action to address the food security crisis

Leading UN agencies issued a joint statement calling for urgent action to address the global food security crisis. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director General Qu Dongyu, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Group (WBG) President David Malpass, World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala issued the following joint statement calling for urgent action to address the global food security crisis.

UN agencies call for immediate action to address the food security crisisFood, fuel, and fertilizer markets, which are intertwined, have been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, interruptions in international supply chains, and the developments in Ukraine. According to the World Food Programme, acute food insecurity, which means people’s access to food in the short term is limited to the point that their lives are at risk, will reach 345 million in 82 countries by June 2022.

To make matters worse, over 8 percent of global food trade has been restricted by export restrictions adopted by over 25 countries in response to higher food prices. Moreover, the doubled price of fertilizer over the last twelve months reflects record-high input costs such as natural gas, further complicating the food supply response. Prices need to be brought down by releasing global stocks, which have steadily increased over the last decade.

Despite this, the government’s fiscal space is already severely constrained following the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries are experiencing structural changes in agriculture productivity as a result of climate change beyond the short term. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, short- and long-term actions are needed in four key areas: (i) providing immediate assistance to the vulnerable, (ii) facilitating trade and international food supply, (iii) boosting production, and (iv) investing in climate-resilient agriculture.

It is critical to support developing countries hurt by price increases and shortages without derailing their long-term development goals. To minimize the risk of social unrest, it is essential to ensure the most vulnerable countries facing significant balance of payments problems can cover the cost of the increase in their food import bill. It is necessary for development financing to provide clients with viable alternatives to inward-looking policies such as export bans or blanket subsidies for fertilizer imports. The investments in scalable safety nets, climate-resilient agriculture, and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are prime examples of win-win investments.

As part of our call for countries to strengthen safety nets, facilitate trade, boost production, and invest in resilient agriculture, we urge them to strengthen their safety nets. In order to connect short, medium, and long-term opportunities, country-specific needs should be identified and defined through a country-based process. We also commit to working together to support this process through the Global Alliance for Food Security, convened by the G7 Presidency and the WBG, to ensure that countries in need have access to investment, financing, data, and best-practice knowledge.