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Welcome Remarks by CDA Rodney Hunter at FAO Conference 43 Side Event "Ukraine: Feeding the World"
July 10, 2023

FAO Conference 43 Side Event 

Ukraine:  Feeding the World 

The Importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) for Global Food Security 

USUN Rome Chargé d’Affaires Rodney Hunter’s Welcome Remarks

Friday, July 7 12:30pm – 2:00pm 

FAO, Sheik Zayed Auditorium 


Ladies and gentlemen  

Distinguished guests 

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this important side event titled “Ukraine: Feeding the World – The Importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for Global Food Security” at the 43rd FAO Conference. On behalf of the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for joining us today. 

Thank you to the Permanent Representation of Ukraine for co-hosting this event, the Embassy of The Netherlands for their funding support, and our co-sponsors Türkiye, The Bahamas, and Norway.  Thank you.   

I would also like to acknowledge the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for hosting us today.  FAO’s dedication to eradicating hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture is crucial in achieving our collective goal of a world free from hunger and malnutrition.   I’d also like to acknowledge the presence of the interpreters, who are providing simultaneous interpretation services in the six official languages of the Organization.  

Our speakers today represent a diverse range of perspectives and expertise.  

We are honored to have with us today: 

  • Deputy Minister for Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Markyian Dmytrasevych; 
  • President of the Ukrainian Grain Association, Mykola Gorbachov; 
  • Türkiye Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Ömer Gücük;
  • The Netherlands Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Marcel Beukeboom; and, 
  • Norway Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Morten Aasland. 

We are also privileged to have distinguished representatives from the Rome-based agencies, including: 

  • FAO Chief Economist, Maximo Torero; 
  • WFP Chief Economist & Director of Research, Assessment, and Monitoring, Arif Husain; and, 
  • IFAD Near East, North Africa, and Europe Regional Director, Dina Saleh. 

Their insights and expertise will greatly enrich our understanding of the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and its impact on global food security, particularly for vulnerable populations.   

I’d like to state at the outset that this event is not about politics.  It’s about the current state of global hunger and how the BSGI plays an outsized role in addressing this once in a generation crisis. The United States strongly supports the Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye.  Since its inception, the BSGI has facilitated the export of more than 30 million metric tons of grain and helped stabilize and lower global food prices.   

Clear, factual data from FAO, WFP, and IFAD has shown Russia’s war against Ukraine has had, and continues to have, an outsized and disastrous impact on global food security. Those are the facts.  In order to address the global impact of this unprovoked and unjustified war, we must discuss this issue and acknowledge that the continuation of the BSGI is a part of the solution.  

In closing, I want to express my sincere appreciation to all of you, the attendees, for your presence here today.  Your engagement, your commitment, and your collective efforts are vital in addressing the challenges of global food security and building a sustainable future. 

Thank you.

Ukraine: Feeding the World