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FAO Council – Item 4 – U.S. Remarks: Global Food Security Challenges and its Drivers
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December 5, 2023

FAO Council

Item 4 – Global Food Security Challenges and its Drivers

As Delivered U.S. Remarks by CDA Rodney M. Hunter

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

 

Thank you, Chair.

The United States appreciates FAO’s efforts to produce this comprehensive report, which is a stark reminder of the essential role of FAO in combatting hunger around the world. It highlights the imperative for this governing body to do all it can to ensure FAO is able to deliver on its mandate for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

As we all know, little progress has been made in combatting global food insecurity, according to the 2023 version of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World or SOFI report. Alarmingly, the SOFI report estimates that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine will result in an additional 23 million more people suffering from hunger by 2030. We plan to discuss this and the situation in Gaza in more detail during agenda items 5 and 6.

The FAO and WFP Hunger Hotspots report released last month, presents a somber outlook for 18 identified hunger hotspots and further demonstrates the complexity and interaction of conflict, climate change, and economic slowdowns and downturns on global food security.

The report highlights that conflict will continue to exacerbate already limited access and availability of food, as well as livelihoods, contributing to deepening protracted food crises. The report also highlights a common theme among many of the hunger hotspots: The intensity and frequent occurrence of climate-related events are severely impacting agricultural production in areas that are already grappling with acute food insecurity.

We’ve seen the impact of floods, droughts, and extreme temperature on agricultural production and global food security. Around the world, farmers confront soaring temperatures, eroding soil, and disappearing ground water. That reduces yields. It makes crops less nutritious.

By 2050, climate change could cut output by as much as 30 percent even as global food demand increases by over 50 percent, while land degradation will place additional constraints on food production and exacerbate climate change impacts.

And we know that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by all this. Globally, 126 million more women than men are food insecure, and that gap is growing.

As urgent as the situation is now, we can see what’s coming if we don’t take the necessary steps to address it. Mitigating climate impacts is central to the United States’ response to strengthening global food security.

Just a few days ago, in line with our work to support long-term efforts through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Secretary Blinken announced at COP28 a $50 million U.S. contribution to support the work of the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS), pending Congressional notification and availability of funds. This support to reverse soil degradation, and support for nutritious traditional crops, starting in Africa, comes at just the right time.

This is in addition to the $17.5 billion the United States has already provided since January 2021 to combat hunger and strengthen food security worldwide. We remain committed to responding to continued needs for emergency humanitarian and agricultural assistance and to building more resilient, sustainable food systems that can withstand shocks, including from the cascading effects of climate change and conflict.

While the global food security outlook is dismal, the United States remains hopeful. We see encouraging signs of recovery, although tempered by rising and more volatile food and energy prices. However, we cannot continue with business as usual. We must strengthen global collaboration and coordination on food security and to reach new heights in our giving. The status quo is not enough to meet the unprecedented needs facing us now.

As Secretary Blinken said at the SDG Summit on September 19: “The United States remains unwavering in our commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030.” That commitment includes SDG 2, and we will continue to do our part in close partnership with member states and countries from around the world to end hunger.

Working together, we can make a better world. Let’s get it done!

Thank you.