Ambassador Cindy McCain delivers the U.S. Opening Statement at the World Food Program Executive Board

WFP Headquarters, 1 March 2022 First Regular Session of the Executive Board, 2022 Statement by H.E. Cindy McCain, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies. Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

World Food Program – Executive Board
First Regular Session
February 28 – March 3, 2022

U.S. Opening Statement (as delivered)

 

March 1, 2022

Thank you, President and Executive Director, for your thoughtful remarks and comprehensive presentations.

Executive Director, you reminded us this morning just how challenging 2021 was. Conflict, political instability, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance to the highest level since the Second World War. The United States remains committed to close partnership with WFP to address these challenges, build resiliency, and save lives.

I also want to highlight a new, emerging crisis. The United States is gravely concerned about the situation in Ukraine. Russia’s attack on Ukraine was unprovoked and unjustified. Much has been said in other venues regarding this crisis situation. Most relevant to our work today at the WFP Board, we urge all present to head off a further deterioration of the situation. We commend WFP’s planning and preparations, but we must continue working to prevent a man-made humanitarian catastrophe and to ensure sufficient humanitarian space to allow assistance to reach those in need. Further, we are concerned that any interruption to the flow of grain out of this region will drive up prices, exacerbating already significant global food inflation that falls most heavily on the world’s most vulnerable.

Even with record contribution levels of more than $9 billion in 2021, WFP’s total funding did not match the level of need. And in 2022 the estimated needs are greater at an estimated $17 billion. I’ll say that again–$17 billion. I am very proud the United States remains WFP’s largest donor, providing 44% of WFP’s total funding in 2021. There is an urgent need for other donors to step up and increase support – and for WFP to continue to explore alternative funding opportunities with the private sector and individual donors.

It is imperative for WFP to prioritize its resources effectively in 2022 to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs – and to communicate these priorities transparently to donors. We need WFP to remain a leader in emergency response and logistics, and I have been heartened to hear the Executive Director and others say WFP will remain “laser focused” on emergency response. I presume and expect this means WFP will provide adequate resources to ensure that core business processes – including preparedness, supply chain services, and monitoring – are well funded in order for WFP to remain the world’s premier emergency response provider.

Against this stark backdrop, I look forward to discussing WFP’s ongoing efforts to improve its effectiveness and measure results through the new Corporate Results Framework. While there are still details of targets and methodologies to refine, we see this CRF as an important tool to help WFP and the Board measure progress toward WFP’s goals.

The U.S. continues to track closely WFP’s ongoing efforts to improve its workplace culture and to ensure all WFP staff are treated with dignity and have equal access to advancement and due process in case of conflict. I look forward to continuing improvement in this area. We look forward to discussing the Gender Policy as a vital part of WFP’s commitment to gender equality and equity in programming and across the institution, and a continued commitment to preventing and combatting sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment.

While important progress has been made with respect to protecting beneficiaries from sexual abuse and exploitation, I want to underscore that more needs to be done to ensure WFP is integrating efforts to prevent abuse and misconduct across all aspects of its programming and among its staff and ensure accountability. We hope to see WFP as a leader in the UN system in this space.

The United States wants to thank WFP for its active good-faith engagement in the Cash Coordination Caucus. Ensuring strong cash coordination has been a priority for the United States. We hope WFP will play an active role in shepherding the proposed coordination model through adoption at the IASC Emergency Directors’ Group.

Finally, the United States welcomes the Executive Board special session to celebrate the Africa Day of School Feeding. Sustainable and integrated school meal programs improve food security, nutrition, health, and education, and they are especially important as part of the global recovery from COVID-19.

The participation of the First Lady of Burundi underscores the tremendous global commitment to school meals, reflected in the launch of the School Meals Coalition during the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021. The United States supports school meal programs around the world through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program, and we look forward to watching the School Meals Coalition grow, with WFP’s help.

We look forward to the discussion this week, and with that, I turn the floor back over to you, President.