ROME -- The COVID-19 pandemic is reversing development gains and testing the foundations of global peace, yet it also presents an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate in helping governments and communities build back better. This is the core theme of a high-level virtual meeting in Rome today (1500 CET), bringing together top representatives of the United Nations, international financial institutions, African Union and European Union and governments.
"As countries rebuild and reset their economies, we must accelerate the transition to renewable energy, undertake dramatic shifts in our food systems and achieve net zero emissions by 2050," United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said, ahead of talks at the UN World Food Programme, winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Guterres also emphasized the importance of a global ceasefire, noting conflict and instability are the main factors behind hunger. WFP's 2020 Nobel Peace Prize sent an important message, he said, "food is peace. Hunger is an outrage in a world of plenty."
The discussions---gathering top leadership from the UN, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, African Union, European Union and representatives from UN member states--- focused on essential and rapid breakthroughs needed to prevent the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from becoming unreachable.
Only by working together, breaking down institutional barriers and deepening collaboration can major players, from the African and European Unions, to the United Nations and international financial institutions, channel the extra resources needed to realize the SDGs---and support governments in delivering more efficiently to their citizens.
"These are truly unprecedented times," said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. "We're facing the threat of famine in multiple countries, while Covid-19, conflict and weather crises are sending hunger rates sky-rocketing in many parts of the world. No country or organization can fix all these problems alone. We will only overcome these immense challenges if we join forces and work together for a better future."
Backdropping calls for urgent action is not only the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, but also the looming and potentially far more catastrophic climate crisis. The impact of these shocks---feeding and intensifying conflict in many places---is already seen today, in rising levels of hunger, migration and extreme weather events.
"In this historical moment of multiple crises we have to rethink our entire humanitarian and development system, and to aim for breakthroughs by dismantling our own respective silos, instead of just working on improved collaboration within existing institutional silos," said President of the WFP Executive Board, Ambassador Ulrich Seidenberger of Germany.
"The challenges facing the world today require globally integrated responses to better use the resources mobilized to date," he added. "This can only be achieved through joined-up planning, financing and implementation of major stakeholders like those participating in today's High-Level Panel discussion."
Today's multiple crises demand the world's top institutions swiftly find better ways to streamline institutional procedures and reshape approaches to working collaboratively on humanitarian, development and peace-building goals. These efforts must also engage the wider development community, along with the private sector and under-represented groups, including women.
Watch the livestream of the Meeting today (15:00 CET) here
Frances Kennedy, WFP/ Rome,
Tel. +39 06 6513 3725,
Mob. +39 346 7600 806
Tomson Phiri, WFP/ Geneva,
Mob. +41 79 842 8057
Jane Howard, WFP/ London,
Mob. +44 (0)796 8008 474
Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York,
Mob. + 1 929 289 9867
Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington,
Mob. +1 202 770 5993