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Hunger Pains

Listen: Global inequality has reached a level we haven’t seen in our lifetimes and recent geopolitical convulsions have only made things worse. The rich have gotten richer while extreme poverty has exploded. UN Foundation President Elizabeth Cousens thinks it's the perfect time for institutions backed by the 1% to step up. She speaks with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast about the key role that innovative philanthropy could play to address problems exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, economic fallout from the COVID pandemic, and a warming planet.

Why now? The stakes are so high and the crises so urgent that Cousens sees a window of opportunity for philanthropy to take swift action instead of their traditional long-term approach. When it comes to immediate and deadly problems like famine and flooding, an influx of money could start making a huge difference very quickly.

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The Perils of Depending on Food Imports | Global Stage | GZERO Media

We all know there's a global food crisis due to the impact of shortages of Russian and Ukrainian grain, fertilizers, and fuel. But UN Foundation chief Elizabeth Cousens thinks high prices are hurting some countries even more.

Take for instance Yemen, which imports 90% of its food and is thus highly vulnerable to any external shocks.

While addressing famine is the top priority, Cousens says in a Global Stage livestream conversation that the long-term plan should be "laying the foundation for a much more resilient, equitable food system."

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"Lives At Risk" in Sub-Saharan Africa Due To Rising Food and Fuel Costs | Global Stage | GZERO Media

Sub-Saharan Africa was on the brink of economic recovery last year. Now, the World Bank expects its growth to slow in 2023. With global inflation on the rise, rising food and fuel costs “actually put lives at risk in a way few other shocks can," says International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior economist Andrew Tiffin.

And sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable: 123 million people there are currently food-insecure, while the region accounts for 6% of the global energy demand. With climate change exponentially leading to those numbers rising, Tiffin says: “Any globally viable discussion has to take into account Africa’s concerns and needs. Because without that, there is simply no solution.”

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Laborer carries food at the main market in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Akila Jayawardana via Reuters

The mood surrounding the annual UN General Assembly kickoff this week has been grim. Russia is pounding Ukraine and climate-related disasters are devastating places as far-flung as Pakistan,Portugal, and Puerto Rico.

In 2022, with total war returned to Europe and the global pandemic having scrambled supply chains, the food crisis is where the conversation is at.

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We Won’t Have Enough Food Next Year if We Don’t Get Russian Fertilizer Out | GZERO World

The UN- and Turkey-brokered deal with Russia to unblock Ukrainian grain exports stuck at Black Sea ports was a big success for the United Nations — and for Secretary-General António Guterres.

Look, he recalls he told Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky: this is a dramatic situation caused by the war because it is threatening the living conditions of most of the world.

The UN chief tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World that we need to find a way for Ukraine to ship its grain; and the UN hopes to negotiate with the US, the EU, and others to get some exemptions from Western sanctions against Russia so Moscow is able to export the food and fertilizer that the world needs right now.

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Internally displaced Somali women stand in a queue waiting for relief food to be served south of Mogadishu, September 5, 2011.

Reuters

The effects of the global food crisis have hit some parts of the globe harder than others. Prone to drought and largely reliant on food imports, the Horn of Africa is reeling, and Somalia, in particular, is facing an acute crisis.

The UN warned this week that “famine is at the door” of the 17 million-strong country, cautioning that several provinces in the southern Bay region could be in the throes of a deadly famine by the end of the year.

Somalia’s current predicament is a cautionary tale for other East African states that have also been pummeled in recent decades by extreme weather events and social and political instability.

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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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