December 5, 2022
FAO Council 171: U.S. Statement on the impact of the war in Ukraine on global food security and related matters under the mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Thank you, Chair. Conflict, climate change, and the lasting impacts of COVID-19 are devastating local and global food systems and the people who rely on them. Especially the most vulnerable. Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has significantly worsened these challenges.
FAO’s paper for this meeting, its analysis since February, and its flagship food security reports show Russia’s war is having an outsized impact on global hunger.
Addressing this falls squarely within the mandate of FAO. The United States values consensus. And we have made significant efforts behind the scenes to consult across regions to reach consensus. But the dire food security picture and Russia’s unwillingness to end its war shows this is not the time for usual business.
Therefore, the United States proposes for decision Council Document “C-L-171-slash-3 Addendum 1” co-sponsored by 51 FAO members, to be adopted by en bloc vote in the Report of the 171st Council. And unfortunately, Russia continues to spread disinformation to deflect responsibility for the food crisis by blaming sanctions for the disruptions to the global food system. This is patently false. FAO’s data shows Russian fertilizers reaching markets at the same levels as last year.
If the inaccurate and misleading proposal submitted by the Russian Federation is put to a vote, I urge everyone present to oppose it. The global situation also underscores the imperative of avoiding any further disruption or slowdown of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and instead scaling it up to meet market demand.
Now is the time for countries to invest in more sustainable, resilient, and productive food systems. The United States is meeting this challenge. Since June we committed over $9 billion dollars in lifesaving humanitarian assistance to address growing global needs. That includes $220 million for FAO in new funding for fertilizer and emergency agriculture work in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, West Africa, the Sahel, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Honduras, and Zambia. It includes a $250 million dollar five-year grant to boost FAO’s One Health Approach, funds for IFAD crisis response, and a massive scale-up in emergency funding for WFP.
I see others stepping up and encourage more to do the same. I remind FAO members to act with urgency and resolve to make further progress on the Global Food Security Roadmap many of us endorsed earlier this year.
I appreciate the analysis and impact assessments FAO has produced and I urge FAO to be more proactive with these products more frequently – quarterly going forward.
Now is the time for us to solve this problem together. Together with FAO and the other RBAs and together as member states facing these struggles first-hand. And together as human beings who want to make a better world for our children and our grandchildren. Let’s get started!
[As delivered by Ambassador Cindy McCain]