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Ambassador Cindy McCain delivers the U.S. Opening Statement at the World Food Program Executive Board
November 15, 2021

World Food Program – Executive Board
Second Regular Session
November 15-18, 2021

U.S. Opening Statement (as delivered)


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

I am honored to have been recently sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome and delighted to be able to be join you today.  While I am with you virtually on this occasion, I look forward to meeting you in person soon and am committed to working with all of you over the coming years to meet the enormous food security challenges the international community faces.

As the Executive Director has pointed out, we should all be alarmed by the unprecedented rise in the number of conflicts and complex crises globally.  Against this stark backdrop, we recognize and applaud the crucial role the World Food Program (WFP) and its partners play in meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable, from Afghanistan to Ethiopia, Yemen, Haiti, South Sudan and elsewhere.  In particular, WFP’s resolve to stay and deliver after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is a credit to the organization and its courageous staff that shows, again and again, it certainly deserved the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize award.

To face the challenges COVID-19, the climate crisis, and conflict pose to food security around the world, we need well-funded, efficiently run organizations like WFP that deliver to those most vulnerable.  We cannot stand by as our fellow human beings lack the food or water to meet their basic needs.  We cannot stand by as hunger is used as a weapon of war.   In this complex humanitarian landscape, the United States will continue to advocate for the critical need for WFP and its partners to be able to secure humanitarian access and ensure independent and principled humanitarian action.

We look forward to discussion of several key documents during this session that will drive the organization’s work during this critical time, including the Strategic Plan and Management Plan.  The United States greatly appreciates WFP’s collaborative approach to developing these documents and your willingness to engage with us on our concerns and recommendations.

To meet our joint goals for the WFP, we believe it is important to have a fully developed Corporate Results Framework (CRF) with robust metrics and targets to accompany the Strategic Plan.  We appreciate your efforts in recent weeks to provide greater detail on the draft CRF in response to our concerns.  We look forward to receiving a fully-developed CRF prior to the next meeting of the Executive Board and we repeat our offer to support WFP in efforts to develop the means by which to measure progress toward achieving the goals laid out in the Strategic Plan.

Similarly, we welcome WFP’s Management Plan for 2022-2024 and your efforts to help the Board understand how the Bottom Up Strategic Budgeting Exercise will influence budget setting in the future.  We commend WFP’s efforts to engage non-traditional donors, including from the private sector, and encourage WFP to continue to identify innovative ways to meet the resource requirements for 2022.

The United States thanks WFP for the integral role it played in the Ministerial in July and the September Food Systems Summit.  WFP contributed greatly to the Summit’s success, and as we deliver on the $10 billion in commitments President Biden announced at the UN General Assembly, the United States intends to work closely with WFP, the other Rome Based Agencies, the broader UN system, and other key stakeholders including the private sector and civil society, to achieve the ambitious goal of transforming food systems worldwide.

President Biden’s pledge towards the goals of ending hunger and malnutrition and building more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems at home and abroad demonstrates our commitment towards dramatic progress to meet the poverty, hunger, economic growth, reduced inequalities, and climate-related Sustainable Development Goals.  The U.S. investment will promote food systems transformation through innovation and climate-smart agriculture, improved infrastructure for food access and inclusive market opportunities, programs prioritizing women’s and children’s needs, improving nutrition, reducing food loss and waste, and climate change mitigation and adaptation within our country and worldwide.

The United States looks forward to actively contributing to the new School Meals Coalition: Nutrition, Health and Education for Every Child.  This was a key outcome of the Summit, and we anticipate it will improve efforts to strengthen and scale integrated school nutrition efforts worldwide as the world recovers from the pandemic.

In addition, we encourage countries to consider joining coalitions that will organize and operationalize commitments made during the Summit, such as the Global Coalition on Sustainable Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation, the Food Loss and Waste Coalition, and the U.S.-UAE Agriculture Innovation Mission for climate, which aims to accelerate investment in agriculture-based climate solutions.  We also encourage countries to develop national pathways to food systems transformations in coordination with UN Residential Coordinators and UN Country Teams.

Finally, the United States welcomes WFP’s continuing efforts to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). We commend WFP’s prioritization of DEI in the People Policy, as well as ongoing efforts to combat forms of discrimination and racism in its workplace culture.  As a leader in the humanitarian community, we encourage WFP to capitalize on its leadership and continue to maximize protection and accountability as well as promote DEI values across the WFP’s workforce.  Likewise, WFP must continue its work to mainstream combatting sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEAH) throughout the organization and its operations, in order to prevent such abuses, ensure an environment where victims can feel safe in reporting SEAH allegations, and ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

We have a busy schedule.  We look forward to the discussion and I look forward to working with all of you.  With that, I turn the floor back over to you, Mr. President.