800 million people in the world are in acute need of food

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A Global Food Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly has heard that some 800 million people in the world are in acute need of food with many at risk of losing their lives to hunger.

The summit, a joint initiative between the European Union, the African Union and the United States among other partners, saw calls for all stakeholders to translate political commitments into concrete action with greater coordination in order to alleviate the plight of the world’s most vulnerable.

Russia’s war against Ukraine was brought into sharp focus by many of the speakers in the open public session. The extremes of a warming planet like the drought that has led to a risk of famine in parts of the Horn of Africa and the extremes of human behaviour most notably the war in Ukraine have had a devastating impact on food security and galvanized the international community to find solutions.

European Council President Charles Michel says, “None of us can do this alone. We know that the United States also launched the Global Fertilizer Challenge and we need to get others on board donors, government, banks, and private companies. We need to ensure all our initiatives are well-coordinated and tailored to the needs of the most vulnerable. Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, Russia’s war against the people of Ukraine is a test, a test of our international rules-based order, and here this afternoon to rally the forces that believe in global cooperation to make the world a better and safer place. We trust the United Nations, which has a central role in coordinating the international response to this crisis.”

Senegalese President and African Union Chairperson Macky Sall says the UN-led Black Sea Grain Initiative which has seen Ukraine’s grain and other foodstuffs in addition to fertilizer return to world markets was lauded here as a key peg towards stabilizing global food prices but challenges remain, including climate change.

“It is important for us to work together to find concerted solutions. What is urgent today is to work together in order to ensure openness and transparency of markets for grains and fertilizers so that all countries can have access to them in accordance with international trade rules. I would like to insist on the topic of fertilizers and fertilizer markets,” says Sall.

President Sall stressed that in the absence of sufficient fertilizer for Africa, famines would prevail as he called for countries to ensure the right conditions for sustainable agricultural production throughout the region.

“We need emergency solutions for greater cohesion and impact. It would be advisable to see how the different initiatives from France, the Farm Initiative, the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission, and Germany, with its Global Alliance for Food Security, as well as other initiatives in Europe. We’d like to see how they could be harmonized with those of the African Development Bank and the U.S. so that we can have a common framework for action and efficiency,” Sall further explains.

While United States President Joe Biden is expected to make new announcements toward greater food security assistance in the days ahead, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken says, “Back in May, when we hosted the Food Ministerial many of our African colleagues especially made clear that as much as they needed emergency relief, what they really needed was more investment in agricultural innovation, sustainability, self-sufficiency. I am convinced from the time that I’ve spent recently in a number of countries in Africa, the capacity is there, but it needs help and we need to help. We have heard that call over the next five years, the United States will work with our Congress to invest over $11 billion worldwide toward goal of durable agricultural production.”

The UN Secretary-General will on Wednesday host a separate meeting with his Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance to further mobilize solutions and strategies to address these interlinked crises.

World Bank action plan to counter global food insecurity: