António Guterres released the initial recommendations of his Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG) on Tuesday, set up in response to the hunger crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 percent of the world’s wheat. Ukraine alone provides more than half of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) wheat supply.
The war has resulted in disrupted supply chains and rising prices – not just of food, but also fuel and fertilizer.
‘Keep markets open’
When he announced the formation of the GCRG in March, Mr. Guterres called on countries to find creative ways to finance increased humanitarian and development recovery needs worldwide, to give generously and immediately release pledged funds.
To avoid the risk of hunger and famine spreading further, the GRCG is urging all countries to keep markets open, resist unjustified and unnecessary export restrictions, and make reserves available to countries at risk of hunger and famine, the UN chief said on Tuesday.
Member States and international financial institutions should make reserves available to countries at risk of hunger and famine, and avoid protectionism, he continued in a briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday morning, whilst ensuring that humanitarian appeals are fully funded, because “people caught up in crisis around the world cannot pay the price for this war”.
© FAO/Anatolii Stepanov
Wheat harvest near Krasne village in Ukraine.
Clean energy the only long-term solution
Noting that some countries have announced plans to release strategic reserves of fossil fuels, as they attempt to reduce their dependence on Russian stocks, Mr. Guterres acknowledged that, in the short term, this strategy could help ease the current crisis.
However, he declared that the only medium and long-term solution is accelerated deployment of renewable energy, which is not impacted by market fluctuations, is the cheapest option in most cases, and will allow the progressive phase-out of coal and all other fossil fuels.
‘Emergency mode’ needed
The third set of recommendations, concluded Mr. Guterres, concern the G20 group of most-developed nations, and international financial institutions.
Governments, he explained, need to urgently take measures to “provide safety nets for the poorest and most vulnerable.” Reform of the global financial system, he continued, is long overdue.
Mr. Guterres noted that all of the recommendations of the GCRG are closely linked to actions consistent with building and sustaining peace.