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Remarks by Ambassador Kip Tom at the Opening Session of the World Food Program Executive Board
June 30, 2020

 Ambassador Kip Tom give the U.S. opening statement at the Annual Session of the World Food Program Executive Board


(As Drafted)

June 29, 2020

Thank you, Ambassador Ulrich Seidenberger for your leadership, especially as we work in the ‘new normal’ of virtual Executive Board sessions.  We will continue to rely on you as a trusted partner along with WFP leadership to bring us together for future sessions. That effort continues to be no small feat in these dynamic and uncertain times.

Executive Director Beasley, this first year of a new decade— from the outset —is proving to be one that calls for more fortitude, perseverance and adaptation than we could have ever predicted.  The United States more so than in the past looks to institutions like WFP to be a part of the holistic, constructive effort needed to tackle human suffering around the world.

As you noted earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially the worst health and socioeconomic disaster in more than a century, threatens to overwhelm the global humanitarian system.  We commend WFP for the expanded role you have taken on to respond to this crisis.  We appreciate your ability to quickly shift attention and resources to the areas across the globe most affected by COVID-19.  The United States has responded robustly, including through WFP.  We will continue to look for effective approaches to tackle this scourge to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable amongst us.

To take on these challenges, this organization must rise to the governance and strategic tasks at hand – those we see clearly before us on this Executive Board session’s agenda, and elsewhere over the course of the year.  We recognize more work is needed with respect to oversight and risk management and we hope to see further progress in these areas in the coming months.

We welcome your leadership in positioning WFP for what lays ahead and commend you for your willingness, as always, to address management issues head-on.  We therefore welcome the reorganization of the senior leadership structure reflecting WFP’s continued push to reshape and adapt in order to align the internal environment with the high quality of WFP’s programming.  The United States welcomes WFP’s transparency in bringing the reorganization proposal to this Board.  We also welcome the additional clarity provided on reporting lines that has given us additional assurance of the continued independence of the Ombudsman and the Ethics Office, a key priority for the United States.

Together, we will discuss a number of these opportunities over the course of the week, including recommendations on WFP’s capacity to respond to emergencies, and its human resources strategy, as well as implementation of concrete actions to address issues of harassment, sexual harassment, abuse of power and discrimination.

In sum, in order to prepare WFP for challenges ahead, the United States urges WFP, its Board members and donors, and other stakeholders to continue to embrace all opportunities to strengthen WFP as an organization.

Moving forward, it will be essential for WFP to expand further into cross-agency cooperation for a unified, balanced, and prioritized response.  In line with that sentiment, we continue to believe meaningful partnership within the United Nations is key in order to achieve operational efficiencies, forge productive links between humanitarian and development actors, and embrace the spirit of coordination over collaboration.

Thank you.