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StatementOctober 11, 2022

Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass at the G20 Joint Finance and Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

Thank you Chair. I want to commend the Indonesian Presidency for organizing this meeting and putting the issue of food security high on the G20 agenda.

Despite the recent stabilization of agriculture prices and the resumption of grain exports from the Black Sea, food inflation and insecurity remain critical problems. We released our Food Security Update last week and the outlook is grim. Food inflation remains high in almost all low and middle-income countries. Fertilizer prices are beginning to rise again from high levels, impacting farmer profitability and next season’s crops.

While food insecurity has been on the rise before, the war in Ukraine has altered global patterns of trade, production, and consumption in ways that will keep prices at historically high levels through 2024.

As the World Bank, we are implementing a $30 billion food security response to help vulnerable households cope with the shock, support farmers to increase production, improve nutrition outcomes, and build resilient food systems. IFC is also supplementing this with an additional $6 billion under a global platform for private sector interventions.

There is considerable demand for these projects. In the first months of its implementation, the World Bank has already committed $6.3 billion for operations focused on food security and nutrition. For example, we launched a $2.3 billion program in Eastern and Southern Africa to help 11 countries increase the resilience of their food systems.

There are urgent and important actions for the G20 to take. We recently issued a strong joint statement together with the IMF, FAO, WFP, and WTO on the need for increased production of energy, food and fertilizer, reducing excess storage, avoiding export and import barriers, transparency, innovation and joint planning, and investing in food systems transformation.

Many countries, both advanced and developing, continue to use trade policy, price controls, and subsidies in the face of rising inflation. These polices risk distorting global food production, trade, and consumption in ways that ultimately result in reduced supply and higher prices. Instead, appropriately calibrated safety nets can protect vulnerable groups from higher prices. The $639 billion of distortive agriculture subsidies globally can be repurposed to transform food systems and improve food security and nutrition. This is especially relevant in times of fiscal constraints and high debt burdens. A further consideration in balancing food security objectives with export goals is risk and exposure to price volatility in spot markets. This requires a holistic assessment to identify trade-offs and implement efficient and financially sustainable policies.

I also would like to update you on the Global Alliance for Food Security that we launched with the German G7 Presidency. This global effort has made substantial progress on identifying gaps in the response and mapping them through the Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard. We’re working with dozens of partners, including many of you here, and in the same spirit that the Indonesian G20 Presidency is proposing.

We are producing a mapping exercise to be launched in November – I’ve reviewed the excellent Beta test site. It’s a platform to provide timely and quality information to decision-makers at country and global levels, that will, for the first time, include all food and nutrition variables, as well as funding, in one place. This mapping draws on the work of many partners including FAO, WFP, and AMIS (which was a good creation launched in 2011 by G20 Ministers of Agriculture). We hope that this Dashboard will be a useful tool for the G20 to discuss gaps and improve coordination of policy and financial response to the crisis and resilience-building.

Recognizing the fiscal urgency from the current shortages, we welcome Secretary Yellen’s call for a temporary debt service standstill for countries seeking Common Framework treatment in the face of food insecurity and the contribution to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

We will continue our efforts and look forward to addressing the challenges together. Thank you.


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