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

The perils of depending on food imports: UN Foundation chief

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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At UN, Ukraine War Launches “New Debate” on Russia | Global Stage | GZERO Media

Why is Russia on the UN Security Council?

“The UN is back,” said Melissa Fleming, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. In an interview with GZERO Media on the sidelines of the 77th General Assembly, Fleming reflected on the return to in-person diplomacy after years of disruption caused by pandemic.

“There is this real feeling that the UN is the only place for global cooperation,” she said. “We cannot solve the world's intractable problems of climate change, of war, of refugees without multilateralism, and multilateralism is the UN. It is nations working together to solve problems.”

In the interview, Fleming also acknowledged that the collision of recent global crises had created uncertainty about the power of multilateralism. But she said recent diplomatic efforts lead by the UN, including the Black Sea grain initiative to help mitigate a growing food insecurity crisis, have brought renewed energy.

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

Akila Jayawardana via Reuters

Is the global food crisis here to stay?

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

António Guterres: the world won’t have enough food in 2023 without Russian fertilizer

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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Ukrainian troops in the midst of the conflict to take back control of Kharkiv province from Russian forces.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Ukraine's gains, Democrats' midterm odds, IMF to offer food aid

Jubilant Ukrainians continue to advance

Ukraine’s military gains of the past few days have emboldened its fighters and leaders. An attack meant to test Russian strength at various points along the front in northeast Kharkiv province became a major counteroffensive when many Russians simply abandoned their equipment and ran. As of Monday, Ukraine has grabbed more territory in five days than the Russian military captured in the past five months. To demonstrate it can still inflict punishment, Russia responded with an artillery blitz aimed at knocking out electricity and water, initially causing widespread outages across Ukraine. But President Volodymyr Zelensky captured the Ukrainian mood on social media with a response aimed at Moscow: “We will be without gas, lights, water and food … and WITHOUT you!” Ukraine’s defense minister has warned his forces to brace for a Russian counterattack, though it appears Russia lacks the manpower and the weapons for an effective near-term military response in Kharkiv province. Russia’s war effort is not collapsing. Its forces remain dug in across much of the Donbas region and along the Black Sea coast. Though Ukraine has seized momentum, this war is far from finished. But Ukrainian forces have again demonstrated that, whatever the Kremlin claims, Putin’s war is not going to plan.

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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

Famine looms in Somalia

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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Wheat harvesting in Kyiv, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

What We’re Watching: A grain of truth & a win for Biden

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

Shortages reach far beyond food

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.

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