UN Chief António Guterres called for debt relief for poor and low-income countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.
Guterres said in his address at Ministerial Conference “Uniting for Global Food Security” in Berlin, that the ongoing war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.
“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”
Also in this regard, Guterres pointed out that harvests across Asia, Africa, and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.
He said, “This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage.”
“No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe,” he noted.
The food security situation and the humanitarian and economic crises in the poor countries in Africa and Asia are having detrimental effects on access to healthy diets, purchasing power, and dietary patterns, and are adversely affecting the nutritional status of the most vulnerable particularly children, adolescent girls, and women, according to a report released by FAO, WHO, UNICEF, and WFP last week.
The report said that the health and humanitarian crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined food security and nutrition.
“Furthermore, global food prices have reached an all-time high in 2022 and the bloody conflict in Ukraine threatens to disrupt global supplies of wheat, maize, and other crops, as well as fertilizer, creating further pressure on prices and additional challenges to ensuring food security for many countries,” it noted.