Joint statement by the heads of the IMF, WBG, FAO, WTO and WFP on the global food and nutrition security crisis

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, the President of the World Bank Group (WBM), David Malpass, the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley issued the following joint statement calling for urgent action to address the global food and nutrition security crisis.

We wish to express our sincerest condolences to the people of Türkiye and the neighboring Syrian Arab Republic, who have suffered from the recent earthquakes. Our organizations are closely monitoring the situation, assessing the scale of the disaster and working to mobilize the necessary support in accordance with each other’s mandates and procedures.

Globally, poverty and food insecurity are increasing after decades of development progress. Disruptions in supply chains, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, financial tightening through rising interest rates, and the war in Ukraine have caused an unprecedented impact on the global food system, and the The most vulnerable are the most affected. Food inflation remains high around the world, with dozens of countries experiencing double-digit inflation. According to the WFP, 349 million people in 79 countries suffer from acute food insecurity. The prevalence of malnutrition is also increasing, after three years of deterioration. This situation is expected to worsen and in 2022 and 2023 global food supplies are projected to fall to the lowest level in three years[1]. The need is especially pressing in 24 countries that FAO and WFP have identified as hotspots, 16 of which are in Africa[2]. Fertilizer affordability, defined by the ratio of food prices to food prices[3], is also the lowest since the 2007/08 food crisis, which is leading to lower food production and affecting small farmers to a greater extent, worsening local food prices, which are already high. For example, the reduction in 2022 production of rice, of which Africa is the world’s largest importer, coupled with the prospect of lower stocks, are of great concern. In response to inflation in food, fuel and fertilizer prices, countries have spent more than US$710 billion on social protection measures covering 1 billion people, of which approximately US$380 billion is to subsidies[4]. Yet in low-income countries, just US$4.3 billion has been spent on social protection measures, compared to US$507.6 billion in high-income countries.

In order to prevent the food and nutrition security crisis from worsening, urgent new measures are required to i) address pockets of hunger, ii) facilitate trade, improve the functioning of markets and strengthen the role of the private sector, and iii) ) reform and redirect harmful subsidies with efficiency and careful targeting. As they respond to the crisis, countries need to find a balance between urgent short-term interventions and long-term resilience efforts.

1. Addressing pockets of hunger

We urge governments and donors to support country efforts to address needs in hot spots, share information, and strengthen crisis preparedness. WFP and FAO urgently need funds to immediately reach the most vulnerable people . In 2022, WFPand its partners reached an unprecedented number of people (more than 140 million) with food and nutrition assistance, based on record contributions of $14 billion, $7.3 billion of which came from the US government. WFP sent more than US$3 billion in cash transfers to people in 72 countries and supported school feeding programs in 80 countries, benefiting 15 million children through direct support and more than 90 million children through strengthening of the Government’s national school feeding programmes. fao _has invested USD 1 billion to support more than 40 million rural inhabitants with urgent agricultural interventions. These activities focused mainly on the 53 countries listed in the global report on food crises. The World Bankwill provide a US$30 billion food and nutrition security package to cover the 15 months from April 2022 to June 2023, including US$12 billion in new projects, which have been committed ahead of schedule. This also includes $3.5 billion in new financing for food and nutrition security in hot spots. In addition, the Bank has allocated $748 million from the $1 billion International Development Association Crisis Response Service (SRC) early response lending modality to primarily address needs in hotspots, and is mobilizing additional funds for the SRC. Resources should also be mobilized for the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust Fund of theFMIto provide concessional financing to low-income countries with balance of payments needs. So far, the IMF’s new Food Shock Window has supported Ukraine, Malawi, Guinea, and Haiti, and the institution has provided financial support to nine countries facing acute food insecurity through new or expanded programs, emphasizing the strengthening of social protection networks and policies to help address the impact of the food crisis. The Global Alliance for Food Security supports improved crisis preparedness by developing and implementing multi-sectoral food security crisis preparedness plans in 26 countries, which must have the support of governments and donors. It also continues to monitor the severity of the food crisis and the financing of the global response through the Global Panel on Food and Nutrition Security. We also welcome the efforts of all parties to mobilize increased financing for Africa’s agricultural transformation, as outlined in the Dakar Declaration[5], and would like to thank David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, for the great job done during his tenure.

2. Facilitate trade, improve the functioning of markets and strengthen the role of the private sector

Countries must minimize trade distortions, strengthen the provision of public goods, and allow the private sector to contribute significantly to improving food security outcomes. We reiterate our urgent call to countries to i) avoid policies such as export restrictions, which can hinder access to food for poor consumers in low-income food-importing countries; ii) support trade facilitation measures to improve the availability of food and fertilizers, iii) support trade finance initiatives in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner, and iv) honor the commitments made at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference [ 6] .While countries have lifted some export bans on wheat and rice, new export restrictions and bans, particularly on vegetables, are hindering availability on world markets. Global food security can be strengthened if governments support both food producers and consumers in smart and targeted ways, for example by strengthening the provision of public goods to sustainably improve agricultural productivity. Countries can use e-voucher systems for fertilizers and avoid large-scale public procurement and subsidized distribution schemes, whether for agricultural inputs or products, that scare away the private sector. The Platform for Global Food Security ofIFC , endowed with USD 6 billion, supports farmers to access fertilizer and other critical supplies, and helps private companies make longer-term investments, focusing on improving the resilience of agri-food systems and efficiency in the use of fertilizers. Countries must follow the FAO International Code of Conduct for the Use and Management of Fertilizers to manage nutrients sustainably for food security[7].

3. Reform and redirect harmful subsidies with efficiency and careful targeting

Countries should reform and redirect universal general subsidies into temporary and better targeted programs for global food security and sustainable food systems, taking into account the key aspects of: i) efficiency, ii) fiscal and cost sustainability, iii ) flexibility, iv) administrative complexity, v) equity, and vi) strengthening resilience and sustainability.Most of the global response to inflation in terms of social protection comes in the form of subsidies, half of which are untargeted, inefficient and costly for governments with already limited resources. Support should be expanded for countries to strengthen and implement comprehensive social protection strategies that are viable and adequately responsive to crises. Policies and reforms supported with financing from the IMF and the World Bank have focused on the transition from general measures to more specific approaches. Countries need to re-examine and reform their support for agriculture, which amounted to some US$639 billion annually between 2016 and 2018 and has been increasing ever since. Of every dollar spent, only 35 cents ends up with farmers[8]. Much of this support encourages inefficient use of resources, distorts world markets, or undermines environmental sustainability, public health, and agricultural productivity. Without ignoring the difficulties inherent in large-scale regulatory reforms[9], this funding needs to be modified and redirected in ways that strengthen the resilience and sustainability of the agrifood system, including through the adoption of good agricultural practices, research and innovation (referring, for example, to the efficiency of fertilizer application and alternatives to synthetic fertilizers), extension and advisory services, the improvement of infrastructure and logistics, and the use of digital technologies that increase productivity in a sustainable way.

Steps are already being taken to address underlying structural challenges in social protection and in food and fertilizer markets, but more concerted action is needed in these three key areas to avoid a protracted crisis. We are committed to working together and impact effectively to support the most vulnerable.

Source: World Food Programme