UNITED NATIONS, United States — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that food security is “ground zero” for inclusive multilateralism while warning that today’s crisis could turn into tomorrow’s catastrophe.
“Food security is ground zero for the networked, inclusive multilateralism we need in the 21st century,” the UN chief said in his video message at a multilateralism and food security roundtable.
“With all the tools at our disposal, it is simply unacceptable that people anywhere are at risk of dying from hunger,” the secretary-general underscored at the roundtable meeting held in New York on the sidelines of the General Debate of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
“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,” he said.
“Food, energy and fertilizer prices have skyrocketed over the past two years, creating terrible hardship and record levels of hunger,” he added, noting, “The number of people who are severely food insecure has doubled.”
The top UN official warned that 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,” he said.
Guterres said that the Black Sea Grain Initiative – together with the agreement reached by the United Nations with Russia to facilitate the unimpeded exports of Russian food and fertilizer – is part of the solution.
“The shipment of grain and fertilizer is crucial, but it won’t mean much if countries cannot afford them,” he said, stressing that 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 Russia.