WFP Welcomes G20 Summit Action On Food Security, Hunger And Humanitarian Food Supply

Published on 04 November 2011

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today congratulated G20 leaders gathered at the summit in Cannes, for taking concrete and critical actions to ensure the flow of food assistance to vulnerable people hit by high food prices, hunger and humanitarian crises.  The G20 agreed that humanitarian food purchased by WFP will not be subject to export restrictions or extraordinary taxes.

ROME-- “High and volatile food prices and financial crises compound the impact of disasters on hungry populations, in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere, and we commend G20 leaders for taking crucial decisions to support humanitarian food supply systems and food security for the most vulnerable people,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran.

“In particular, we welcome the G20 leaders' decision to remove food export restrictions, or extraordinary taxes for food purchased for humanitarian purposes by WFP, and their commitment not to impose them in the future,” Sheeran added.  “WFP moves the vast majority of multilateral food assistance and now we will have secure access to food from G20 nations that provide the biggest share of global food exports, enabling us to reach the needy rapidly and efficiently."

The G20 decisions form part of a package of food security actions, including backing for an ECOWAS initiative on regional emergency food reserves in West Africa, and support for targeted nutrition safety nets, efficient and flexible food assistance, including forward purchasing, and efforts to improve the lot for smallholder farmers, which will reduce the effects and risks of price volatility on the most vulnerable.  

During the 2008 high food price crisis, export restrictions threatened WFP’s ability to provide a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of people who were struggling to access the food they needed for their families.  The G20 nations’ agreement to exempt WFP food from export restrictions and extraordinary taxes will ensure humanitarian food flows.  Food price volatility and high food prices continue to pose challenges to people living in countries where more than two-thirds of household income can be spent on food.

G20 Summit declaration excerpts:

Paragraph 19. Promoting agricultural production is key to feed the world population. To that end, we decide to act in the framework of the Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture agreed by our Ministers of Agriculture in June 2011. In particular, we decide to invest in and support research and development of agriculture productivity. We have launched the "Agricultural Market Information System" (AMIS) to reinforce transparency on agricultural products' markets. To improve food security, we commit to develop appropriate risk-management instruments and humanitarian emergency tools. We decide that food purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Program will not be subject to export restrictions or extraordinary taxes. We welcome the creation of a "Rapid Response Forum", to improve the international community's capacity to coordinate policies and develop common responses in time of market crises.

Paragraph 26.
The humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa underscores the urgent need to strengthen emergency and long-term responses to food insecurity. We support the concrete initiatives mentioned in the Cannes final Declaration, with a view to foster investments in agriculture and mitigate the impact of price volatility, in particular in low income countries and to the benefit of smallholders. We welcome the initiative of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) to set up a targeted regional emergency humanitarian food reserve system, as a pilot project, and the "ASEAN+3" emergency rice reserve initiative.