New global alliance
At a meeting in Berlin in mid-May, ministers representing the G7 nations and other international leaders launched the new “Global Alliance for Food Security”. In a joint statement, Schulze and David Malpass, the president of the World Bank, declared: “The world is currently dealing with a series of overlapping crises, including the Russian war against Ukraine, repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, ongoing global economic uncertainty, supply chain disruptions, significant droughts around the globe and other challenges.” They pointed out that the poorest and most vulnerable people in emerging and developing economies are the most affected.
A month earlier, had Schulze spoken out in favour of such an alliance at the spring conference of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington. To launch the proposal, she had joined forces with Malpass as well as David Beasley, the director of the World Food Programme, and Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the finance minister of Indonesia. Indonesia chairs the G20 this year and Germany the G7, so both countries currently have an even greater international influence than they normally do.
The idea is to create an agile and multilateral platform of the kind that was established in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. By the time of the Berlin meeting, supporters included the G7, the World Bank, the WFP, the EU Commission, the UN Global Crisis Response Group, Norway, Denmark, the African Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Other parties willing to join are welcome, including from the private sector and civil society.
Global food prices have increased fast since Russia invaded Ukraine in February (see Claudia Isabel Rittel on www.dandc.eu). Both countries used to be major grain exporters. In response to food-price inflation, several countries have stopped grain exports, exacerbating the problems at the international level. Schulze has accused Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, of weaponising food.
According to the joint statement by Schulze and Malpass, “the immediate objective is to coordinate closely as we initiate a short-term response over the next months.” Critical issues are:
- increasing the supplies of food, fertiliser and fuel,
- removing trade barriers and
- providing financial support to ease crisis impacts.
Since global-food security will require continued commitment, the joint statement spells out longer-term goals as well: “We need to increase countries’ resilience to current risks and future challenges, including climate change.” Among other things, it is important to support farmers in ways that make them less vulnerable to extreme weather events. Accordingly, the alliance is meant to help countries build stronger food systems and gradually transition to sustainable agriculture.
As part of their efforts to combat climate change, moreover, the G7 countries agreed to conclude more partnerships with developing countries to promote the equitable transition to clean energy. They reaffirmed their interest in partnerships to mobilise public and private funds for climate-resilient infrastructure. For the first time in a G7 communiqué, they made a commitment to increasing their activities in regard to climate-related damage and loss. In this context, both private insurance (see Renate Bleich et al. on www.dandc.eu) and governmental social-protection systems (see Stefan Beierl on www.dandc.eu) are considered to be relevant. Both boost communities’ resilience.