The Global Donor Platform’s 2022 Annual General Assembly (AGA) was held on 14 and 15 June 2022 at IFAD headquarters in Rome, Italy, under the theme “Implementing National Pathways for Food Systems Transformation to Accelerate Progress Towards the SDGs in Times of Crisis and Conflict”. The AGA sessions focused on how donor coordination and alignment can be targeted to support food systems transformation and the achievement of the SDGs, in a context where agricultural value chains and food production are being severely hampered globally by climate change, the COVID pandemic, increased cost of inputs, and several conflicts, including the recent war in Ukraine. In this extraordinary situation, the AGA included a special high-level session to provide a discussion space for current international initiatives working to support food security during the crisis. The high-level panel conversation focused on the alliance of mechanisms, risk assessments, and the role of donor architecture for coordination.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of our global food systems, pushing hundreds of million people into hunger. While these shocks have finally started to fade, an even greater food systems crisis has erupted, stemming from the recent conflict in Ukraine. The impacts on the planting and harvesting season of this extremely fertile region, as well as the war-associated sanctions, are causing massive spikes in the prices of food, fuel, and
fertilizer. The disrupted grain flows are having dramatic short-term effects on agriculture and food systems, and without meaningful action, the medium and long-term consequences of this crisis have the potential to completely derail the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
During the 2008 global food price crisis, soaring costs of food and agriculture inputs drove up to 155 million people into poverty in the Global South1. The price spikes were mostly related to long-term trends of reduced investments in agriculture, shifting dietary patterns and climate change, and the short-term impacts of increased agricultural commodities trading and demand for biofuels. These issues were, in many ways, also contributing to more recent rising prices. However, today’s crisis holds the additional burden of a major war in one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world.
Bilateral and multilateral donors and philanthropic foundations are facing these current challenges with vast experience and lessons learned from previous crisis responses. In 2008, there was extensive, yet fragmented and uncoordinated donor support for emergency measures to address food insecurity. While this was partly effective in tackling the immediate situation, the emphasis on these short-term measures meant that longer-term investments were ignored, which played a part in the lead-up to today’s emergency. Indeed, the present crisis is far more severe than the last, with the possibility of dramatic increases in hunger and poverty in the short-term and severe consequences for economic growth and development in the medium- and long-term.