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Food Security ‘Ground Zero’ for Inclusive Multilateralism, Secretary-General Tells Roundtable, Warning Today’s Crisis Could Turn into Tomorrow’s Catastrophe

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Leaders’ Network Roundtable:  “Multilateralism and Food Security:  Finding Solutions to the Crisis, in New York today:

We are in the midst of the worst global food crisis of our lifetimes.  The destructive power of the climate crisis has been turbocharged by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased conflicts.

Food, energy and fertilizer prices have skyrocketed over the past two years, creating terrible hardship and record levels of hunger, dramatically amplified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The number of people who are severely food insecure has doubled.

And all projections point in one direction:  today’s crisis could turn into tomorrow’s catastrophe.  There is a real possibility of multiple famines this year and next.  If we don’t stabilize the fertilizer market in 2022, there simply will not be enough food in 2023.  Many farmers around the world are already reducing areas for cultivation.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative — together with the agreement reached by the United Nations with the Russian Federation to facilitate the unimpeded exports of Russian food and fertilizer — are part of the solution.  But only part.

The shipment of grain and fertilizer is crucial, but it won’t mean much if countries cannot afford them.  Developed countries and international financial institutions must do more to make resources available, so that developing countries can capitalize on the opportunities of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and unimpeded access to food and fertilizer from the Russian Federation.

I welcome the initiatives launched by the African Union, the European Union, the United States, the African Development Bank, the Group of Seven (G7) and others.  They enable us to monitor and predict hunger hotspots better than ever before, and target action towards countries in greatest need.

Today’s meeting is an essential step towards coordinating approaches between countries, regions and institutions.  Food security is ground zero for the networked, inclusive multilateralism we need in the twenty-first century.  With all the tools at our disposal, it is simply unacceptable that people anywhere are at risk of dying from hunger.  I wish you a successful meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.