Global financial meeting focuses on food insecurity caused by war

WASHINGTON – World financial leaders are putting the growing crisis of food insecurity and soaring food prices front and center as members of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meet in Washington and tackle to the brutal effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was convening a meeting Tuesday morning with leaders of the IMF, World Bank, Group of Seven and Group of 20 global organizations to “call on international financial institutions to accelerate and deepen their response” to countries affected by food problems exacerbated by Russian aggression, the Treasury Department said.

Russia and Ukraine produce 14% of the world’s wheat supply, according to the United Nations, and the loss of basic commodities due to war has led to soaring food prices and uncertainty about the future food security in the world, especially in poor countries.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ food price index jumped its biggest jump since its inception in 1990, reflecting record highs in the cost of vegetable oils, grains and meat, depending on the organization.

A late-March report by the organization said the global number of undernourished people could rise from 8 million to 13 million people by 2023, “with the steepest increases taking place in Asia-Pacific, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and the Near East”. East and North Africa. If the war lasts, the impacts will go well beyond 2022/23.

Anna Nagurney, a crisis management specialist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said Tuesday’s meeting of world leaders was significant and “reflects the growing fear and growing understanding that the world could be on the brink of ‘a catastrophe of hunger’.

Nagurney predicted that countries that have not yet given clear support to Ukraine – such as China and India – will find that food insecurity resulting from a protracted war in Ukraine will affect their own national stability. and the well-being of their citizens.

“It can help further isolate Russia both morally and economically,” she said.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Monday that the international coalition of countries imposing sanctions on Russia and its allies takes the threat to food security seriously.

“One of the things we need to do is take concrete steps to demonstrate that this system is helping the people who need it most,” he said, which includes a “focus on countries that are struggling to pay for things like bread for their people in light of rising commodity prices.

Russia is a member of the G-20, which is made up of representatives from industrialized nations and emerging markets, but the Treasury has said the Russians will not attend the session on food security.

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