Hunger Pains

Introducing GZERO's Coverage on Hunger Pains: The Growing Global Food Crisis | GZERO Media

The world is on the brink of a crisis that could push more than a billion people towards starvation. A crisis that could upend governments, roil global markets, and rattle households around the world.

The pandemic has scrambled food supply chains, raising costs for everyone. Droughts and floods tied to climate change have hampered harvests around the world. And Russia’s war with Ukraine has made it all worse.

Today, the world faces the sharpest “hunger pains” since the end of World War 2.

GZERO Media’s special coverage of the ongoing food crisis takes you deeper into the story.

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Wheat harvesting in Kyiv, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

No pain no grain

Russia and Ukraine are hardly beating their swords into plowshares, but at least the fruits of the harvest are once again on the move from Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa. Earlier this week saw the departure of the first grain boat from there since the signing of a tenuous new export security deal between Ukraine, Turkey, the UN, and Russia. The return of Ukrainian grain to world markets is welcome news for countries that depend heavily on the country’s exports, as well as for broader food prices around the globe. But it will take months to get back to pre-war export levels, warns the Ukrainian government. The next few weeks will see only about half a dozen departures compared to the normal level of about 200 every August. A big question looms: the first boats to leave Odesa will be ones that were stuck there for months, but it’s unclear whether a large number of grain traders will be willing to take the immense financial and insurance risk of sending fresh boats to Odesa. GZERO reader Jonathan Grange, a grain trader at Sunstone Brokers in Switzerland, tells us that a fully laden grain boat is worth about $70 million — “who,” he asks, “wants to assume the risk of a Russian misfire on this value?”

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Reuters

The war in Ukraine is just the latest crisis to befall global supply chains in recent years, and it appears likely to get worse before it finally eases. It’s not just about interrupted flows, shortages, and higher prices for food and fuel. According to a report published in May 2022 by Dun & Bradstreet, a total of at least 615,000 businesses operating globally depend on supplies from either Russia or Ukraine. About 90% of those firms are based in the United States, but supply chains in Europe, China, Canada, Australia, and Brazil are heavily impacted. According to the report, a total of 25 countries have a high dependency on Russia and Ukraine for a variety of commodities.

Five months into the war, it’s clear that the likeliest outcome of the current fighting will be a long-term stalemate. Russia doesn’t appear militarily strong enough to take and hold all of Ukraine, and Ukraine doesn’t appear strong enough to drive Russian troops completely off Ukrainian land. As a result, those who depend on resources and production inputs from Russia and Ukraine now know they’ll likely need to invest in new suppliers of hundreds of different commodities and products – from sunflower seeds to turbojets – to build better resilience into their supply chains, rather than simply waiting for the fighting to end.

Ian Bremmer: Global Middle Class Erosion Making People Hungrier — And Angrier | GZERO Media

Until recently, global development had been defined by globalization, especially when it comes to a growing middle class and poverty reduction.

Not anymore, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said during a livestream conversation about the global food crisis hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Paige Fusco

Don’t look now, but one of the worst stories in the world is actually getting better. Slightly.

You’ve doubtless seen a lot about — and probably experienced — soaring global food prices in recent months. The pandemic drove up prices, and the war in Ukraine sent them to dizzying heights. Close to a billion people slid closer to famine and poverty.

Well, global food prices are actually falling now. In fact, they’ve been on their way down for several months.

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Can we still meet the SDGs? | GZERO Media

After the pandemic and now the global food crisis, meeting the UN's Sustainable Goals by the 2030 deadline will be a tall order.

But actually it's previous systemic challenges aggravated by those crises that are undermining the push to achieve the SDGs, Kathryn Hollifield, from the World Bank's Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, explained during a livestream discussion on the global food crisis hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Reasons For Optimism Amid The Global Food Crisis | GZERO Media

How long will food prices keep rising? Will food itself become scarce? There's a lot of doom and gloom these days about the global food crisis, made even worse by Russia's war in Ukraine.

But there are some reasons to be hopeful, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman said during a livestream conversation about the global food crisis hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with the organization he leads.

The Gates Foundation, he explained, has long been investing in innovations that can massively increase productivity by smallholder farmers across the developing world. Think drought-tolerant seeds or flood-resistant rice.

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