DUBAI: One third of the world’s food supply is wasted every year, which is why the world food crisis was one of the pressing topics discussed on the first day of panel discussions at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland.
Panelist David Beasley, the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, said the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
“Because of this crisis, we are taking food from the hungry to give to the starving,” Beasley said.
He explained that if the port of Odessa in Ukraine doesn’t open, it will add to the complexity of the global problem. “We’ve got to get those fields back operational, we’ve got to get those silos full again.”
The WFP executive director said that failure to open the ports is a declaration of war on global food security.
When he took this job there were 80 million people close to starvation, he said. Right before COVID, it had risen to 135 million.
When the pandemic came along, the number shot up to 276 million people and has now increased to 325 million.
“Now here’s the most startling fact, out of that 276 or 325 million there are 49 million knocking on famine’s door in 43 countries, and those are the 43 countries we have got to be extremely concerned about,” he said.
The executive director of the WFP explained that if developed nations do not address the issue in the crisis-hit 43 countries it will result in famine, destabilization and mass migration.
Also participating in the talk was Mariam Al-Mheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, who spoke about the responsibility of countries who are in a better position than others.
“Let’s keep markets open, the flow of food needs to keep flowing because if food does not flow we get famine,” she said. “In a way we are all somewhat to blame for where we are, one way or the other.”
She also urged nations to put in place more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by incorporating more food systems in their NDCs.
Philip Isdor Mpango, vice-president of the United Republic of Tanzania, agreed that actions on a national level are crucial to evade the global food crisis.
“We have to deal with the mega investments currently in agriculture,” he said. “We have to invest in irrigation, we have to invest in rural roads, we have to invest in smart agriculture, and we also have to deal with land allocation issues for larger scale cultivation.”
Beasley said that organizations and donor nations need to be more strategic with how they move into nations that need to improve productivity.
“Every 1 percent increase in hunger is a 2 percent increase in migration,” he said, concluding the session on the global food crisis.
WEF, held this year from May 22 to 26, is an annual meeting that allows Business, tech and political leaders from around the world to share insights and exchange expertise. This year’s conference was held in person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.