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FAO Council 174 – Item 6: The Impact of the War in Ukraine on global food security
U.S. Remarks by CDA Rodney M. Hunter
December 11, 2023

FAO Council
Item 6 – The Impact of the War in Ukraine on Global Food Security
As Delivered U.S. Remarks by CDA Rodney M. Hunter
Thursday, December 6, 2023

The United States appreciates the Secretariat’s update on the impacts on global food security of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine. Sadly, the report underscores the real-time and long-term harm that Russia continues to inflict on world markets and vulnerable populations in every region.

This Council must remain steadfast in its condemnation of and deep concern about the global food security impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has had unprecedented negative impacts on global food security, will have implications for years to come, and will continue to be felt globally – especially by the most vulnerable.

According to FAO’s 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report, 23 million more people are projected to face hunger in 2030 than if this senseless and illegal full-scale invasion had not occurred.

For the one year the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) was in place, 64 percent of wheat exported through the Initiative went to developing economies, including those most vulnerable to severe hunger and malnutrition. Nearly 33 million tons of grain and food were exported during that time, contributing to a 23 percent drop in global food prices, which had life-saving impacts on acutely food insecure countries.

Since its unilateral withdrawal from BSGI in July, Russia has destroyed over 300,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain, enough to feed nearly 15 million people for a month.

Moscow’s aggression has made global food markets more volatile thereby imperiling food availability with humanitarian implications beyond Europe.

Russia is executing a deliberate strategy: destroy Ukrainian livelihoods, sink the Ukrainian economy, and keep food from the world’s hungriest – exacerbating the global food crisis and inflicting further pain on communities around the world who already struggle to get enough to eat.

We do not yet know the long-term implications of reducing the diversity of international grain sources, of Russia’s ongoing destruction of Ukraine’s agricultural land and infrastructure, or of the impacts on agricultural supply chains and food sources for people in nations that have traditionally relied on Ukraine for food. But we will continue to watch the data that FAO produces for answers to these questions, and more, in the months and years ahead.

However, we know that Ukraine’s fertile farmlands have the ability and capacity to feed people around the world as they did before this war – and we must do everything in our power to end the war and get back to this.

Russia must stop destroying livelihoods and economies and holding food back from the world’s most vulnerable in its war against Ukraine.

We urge all FAO members to continue to condemn Russia’s incessant attacks on grain storage and port infrastructure in Odesa and along the Danube. FAO members should also urge Russia to rejoin the BSGI.

Colleagues, the Council’s stance on this issue has been consistent, principled, and endorsed by the Conference. Until the circumstances change radically, we have a duty to stay the course, adhere to the purpose of this organization, and keep the interests of food insecure people everywhere as our central focus.