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Speeches & TranscriptsFebruary 16, 2024

Remarks by Axel van Trotsenburg at the WFP Innovation Pitch – Rethinking Food Security in Humanitarian Settings – of the Munich Security Conference 2024

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. We are meeting as the world faces increasing hunger, driving millions more into extreme poverty, and threatening to erase hard-won gains in development.

The scale of the food crisis means that no one institution can tackle this alone. I welcome the work by WFP Executive Director McCain in making partnerships and innovations a priority. The World Bank and WFP have a solid and growing partnership to respond to emerging humanitarian crises worldwide. Our work, and in particular through Early Response Financing in our IDA Crisis Response Window, spans 26 of the most food-insecure countries.

At the World Bank, we also recognize the importance of innovations and collaboration to promote food security. The Global Shield Financing Facility, which we are working with WFP, is expanding climate and disaster risk financing cover in 23 countries with strong technological components.

We are also working with Germany, WFP and other partners on the Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard. This is an innovative knowledge platform that helps track food crises with real time price monitoring and donor financing to get ahead of crises earlier and faster.  Every $1 invested in building people’s resilience will result in up to $3 in reduced humanitarian aid and avoided losses.

It’s also important to remember that food security can only be achieved if we transform our food systems, and innovation is key to its success. Unfortunately, governments are chronically underinvesting in innovations, despite having one of the highest payoffs to public spending. While climate change and conflict will continue to drive hunger, accelerating innovations in building the resilience of communities who are food insecure will help save precious resources for better use.

The World Bank is including food and nutrition security as part of our “Global Challenge Programs” so that we can address it at scale with new ways of working to benefit hundreds of millions of people. Our Food and Nutrition Security Global Challenge Program will foster innovation, partnerships and links with the private sector. A strong replenishment for IDA funds will provide more support for people in the poorest countries.

Over 250 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. Around 79 percent of them live in countries which are experiencing fragility and conflict.

During an urgent food crisis in these settings, typically the first response is to provide emergency, short-term support, including food aid and cash assistance, which are vital. But we need to remember that the last food crisis happened just over a decade ago. Every time a crisis occurs, it creates a huge dent in the resources available for the country’s development.

To avoid food crises from escalating, building the resilience of communities is just as important.

In the Sahel, we are working with partners, to implement an adaptive social protection initiative. This helps build the resilience of poor families by investing in their capacity to prepare for, and adapt to shocks, ensuring that they do not fall deeper into poverty.

We are collaborating closely with partners and governments of 25 countries to get ahead of future food crises by developing national Preparedness Plans. These Plans provide an important foundation for countries to be better prepared for devastating crises and enable more proactive and coordinated responses.

By pushing for innovation, together we can ensure that no one goes hungry. The World Bank stands ready to support these efforts.


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