Joint statement of the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, the World Food Program and the World Trade Organization on the global food security crisis

Joint statement of the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, the World Food Program and the World Trade Organization on the global food security crisis







15 July 2022















Washington, DC: The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, President of the World Bank Group David Malpass, Executive Director of the World Food Program David Beasley and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala issued the following joint statement that He called for urgent action to address the global food security crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic, disruption of international supply chains, and the war in Ukraine have disrupted the interconnected food, fuel and fertilizer markets. By June 2022, the number of acutely food insecure people – whose short-term access to food is so restricted that their lives and livelihoods are at risk – had risen to 345 million in 82 countries according to the World Food Program. To make matters worse, about 25 countries have responded to rising food prices by adopting export restrictions that have affected more than 8 percent of global food trade.[1] In addition, complicating the food supply response is the doubling of fertilizer prices over the past 12 months, reflecting record-high costs of inputs such as natural gas. Global stocks, which have increased steadily over the past decade, need to be released to bring down prices. All of this is happening at a time when the fiscal space for government action is severely restricted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the short term, climate change is structurally affecting agricultural productivity in many countries.

Avoiding further setbacks in achieving the SDGs requires short- and long-term actions in four key areas: (1) providing immediate support to vulnerable groups, (2) facilitating trade and international food supply, (3) enhancing production and (4) investing in agriculture Climate resistance.


  • Providing immediate support to vulnerable groups:

    Rapidly strengthening safety nets for vulnerable families at the national level and ensuring that the program has sufficient resources to serve those most in need is a priority. WFP’s operations should be facilitated by measures such as the recent agreement among WTO members not to impose export restrictions on its purchases of humanitarian food. Unless they are well targeted, energy and food subsidies are costly and ineffective. It should be replaced by cash transfers that only reach the most vulnerable. Over time, effective social protection systems can be expanded to include more people. The best systems include robust targeting and efficient scoring, delivery, and payment systems, which often take advantage of technology.


  • Facilitating International Trade and Food Supply:

    In the short term, the release of stocks, as appropriate and consistent with WTO rules, and a diplomatic solution to the evacuation of grain and fertilizer currently banned in Ukraine, will help address the availability and affordability of food supplies. Facilitating trade and improving the functioning and resilience of global markets for food and agriculture, including for grains, fertilizers and other agricultural production inputs, are essential, as outlined in the WTO Ministerial Declaration on Emergency Food Security Response. The 2008 crisis taught us that the imposition of global trade restrictions leads directly to higher food prices. Removing export restrictions and adopting more flexible inspections and licensing helps reduce supply disruptions and lower prices. Increasing transparency through notifications to the WTO and improving monitoring of trade measures will be critical.

  • increase production:

    Actions are needed to encourage farmers and fishermen to promote sustainable food production – in both developing and developed countries – and to improve the supply chains that connect them to the world’s eight billion consumers. This requires affordable fertilizers, seeds and other inputs through the private sector as the primary player in these markets. Providing working capital to competitive producers is also a major priority. Looking to the future, dissemination of knowledge of best practices by FAO, the World Bank Group and others will be key to increasing fertilizer use efficiency through rapid dissemination of soil maps, extension services and precision farming technology. This will provide producers with the know-how to maintain production levels and promote sustainable use of natural resources.

  • Investing in climate-resilient agriculture:

    Supporting resilient investments in agricultural capacity and support for adaptation, smallholder farms, food systems and climate-smart technologies is essential to developing resilient and climate-smart agriculture that ensures stable production in the coming years. Work to establish norms and standards for food safety and value chain infrastructure (storage facilities, refrigeration facilities, banking infrastructure and insurance infrastructure) is also important to increase access and reduce inequality.

Past experience shows that it is important to support developing countries affected by price hikes and shortages to meet their immediate needs without hampering long-term development goals. It is necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable countries facing significant balance of payments problems can cover the cost of the increase in their food import bill to reduce any risks of social unrest. Development finance should provide clients with practical alternatives to inward-looking policies such as export bans or blanket subsidies on fertilizer imports. Investing in scalable safety nets, climate-resilient agriculture, and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are good win-win examples.

We call on countries to strengthen safety nets, facilitate trade, increase production, and invest in resilient agriculture. Country-specific needs should be identified and defined through a country process that mobilizes investment from multilateral development banks to link short, medium and long-term opportunities. We commit to working together to support this process through the Global Alliance for Food Security, held jointly with the G7 Presidency and the World Bank Group, to monitor the drivers and impact of higher prices and help ensure better investment, financing and data. Practical knowledge is available to countries in need.

Contacts:

The World Bank Group:
David Theis, dtheis@worldbankgroup.org

International Monetary Fund:
Nicolas Mombrial, nmombrial@IMF.org

FAO:
FAO News and Media, FAO-Newsroom@fao.org

WTO:
Bernard Kuiten, bernard.kuiten@wto.org

World Food Program:
George Fominyen, George.fominyen@wfp.org



[1]

Effective June 30, 2022 and based on the World Trade Organization, the Global Trade Alert and World Bank monitoring of trade policy changes since February 2022.


Communications Department of the International Monetary Fund
media relations

Press supplement: Nicolas Mombrial

phone: +1202623-7100E-mail: MEDIA@IMF.org

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