Conflict and food insecurity on agenda in New York

‘An increase in global food insecurity could lead to greater instability. Ensuring that people have enough food to eat is primarily about saving lives, but it will also help prevent new conflicts,’ said Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim. In a statement to the UN Security Council on Thursday, Ms Tvinnereim talked about the link between food insecurity and conflict.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the number of people worldwide on the brink of acute food insecurity increased from 135 million in 2019 to 193 million in 2021 in the 53 countries most in need of assistance. Based on projections for 41 countries, this number is expected to rise significantly, particularly in light of the war in Ukraine. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken convened the open debate of the UN Security Council on conflict and food security against this backdrop.

‘Norway will provide both political and financial support to mitigate the impacts of the Ukraine war and other crises on global food security. A number of concurrent crises are now putting very many people in different parts of the world at risk of hunger and famine. It is critical that the international community works together to address this escalating crisis. At times like this, global cooperation is essential,’ Ms Tvinnereim said.

Security Council resolution 2417 (2018) acknowledges the link between armed conflict and hunger, and gives the Council a mandate to discuss this issue.

‘Conflict breeds hunger, and in the longer term, hunger breeds unrest and more conflict. Food security is therefore an appropriate topic to address in the UN Security Council, which has a clear role to play in preventing and resolving conflicts. As a member of the Security Council, Norway is working to strengthen the implementation of the resolution. Norway has therefore emphasised the need to send a clear message that it is unacceptable and in violation of international humanitarian law to impede humanitarian access and use starvation of civilians as a method of warfare,’ said Ms Tvinnereim.

In her statement, the Minister of International Development said that food production in developing countries must increase, particularly in areas that are highly dependent on food imports. She stressed that it is now more important than ever to enable African countries to produce more of the food they need themselves.

Norway will be at the forefront when it comes to promoting long-term investment in climate-resilient agriculture in developing countries, and measures to address the humanitarian impacts of conflict. Norway will provide political and financial support to achieve the goal of zero hunger by 2030.

Read the Minister’s statement.

Norway has so far this year provided NOK 1 billion for the humanitarian efforts of the World Food Programme (WFP). The remaining NOK 800 million allocated under the budget item for food security will go towards mitigating the impacts of the current global food insecurity crisis. This includes support for the activities of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Ukraine. In addition to humanitarian funding, Norway is providing more than NOK 2.3 billion for measures to promote food security in developing countries.

There are many reasons why the number of people facing acute hunger and food insecurity rose so steeply in 2021. These include the economic slowdown as a result of the pandemic, high prices for energy and food, and more frequent and more extreme weather events that destroy crops. In addition, the war in Ukraine is driving food and energy prices even higher and prices for mineral fertiliser are rising dramatically. Russia and Ukraine account for a full 28 % of the world’s wheat exports.