World Food Prize Brings Global Leaders Together

“A new generation born into freedom from want can build a different future," said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin during this year's World Food Prize ceremony. Copyright: WFP/Rene McGuffin

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon joined WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and global leaders in the field of food security with a historic visit to the World Food Prize ceremony this week in the heartland of the U.S. to mark how innovations to solving hunger can be a powerful instrument of peace.

“Ending hunger is the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, the necessary thing to do – and something we must do,” Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in his address before the World Food Prize ceremony of more than 1,000 leaders from 70 countries.

Executive Director Cousin furthered that theme, articulating in her speech that coming together to innovate doesn’t just feed our growing world, but builds a better one.

“A new generation born into freedom from want can build a different future – a future built on wisdom,” she said.

Considered the Nobel Prize of food security, the World Food Prize honors thinkers and leaders breaking ground to solve hunger and foster international collaboration. This year’s winner, Israeli scientist Dr. Hillel, pioneered an irrigation scheme that helps farmers grow more and better crops in some of the driest places on earth.

Dr. Hillel’s achievements and the World Food Prize’s legacy of leadership before him highlight how partnership – and bringing together expertise across borders and sectors – fosters the innovation needed to feed our growing world. Executive Director Cousin stressed the need to channel this cross-cutting collaboration into WFP’s work to solve hunger, articulating how strategic partnerships will drive sustainable progress on today’s global challenges.

“No organization – no matter how good – can rise to this challenge alone.” she said. “Let’s consider the impact of these partnerships in constructing a future history for this next generation and the generation that follows.”

Executive Director Cousin emphasized how this collaboration is empowering women in particular to shape a more food secure future for their families and communities. Citing the statistic that women produce up to 80% of Africa’s food, she discussed a new programme launched last month that brings together four UN agencies (UN Women, FAO, IFAD, and WFP) with leadership from myriad national governments to give rural women better access to the resources, training, and economic opportunity they need to succeed – and help us all build a more food secure future.

“Our goal is to bring lasting improvement in the livelihoods and rights of rural women through joint action,” she said.