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The Global Food Crisis: “The Silent Tsunami”

The Global Food Crisis: “The Silent Tsunami”

Event Transcript (Courtesy of the Brookings Institution)

November 24, 2009

 

Introduction and Moderator:

Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow, Wolfensohn Center for Development, Brookings Institution

 

Panelists:

Josette Sheeran, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme

Samuel Worthington, President and CEO, InterAction

Robert B. Zoellick, President, World Bank Group

 

 

[Begin Audio File]

 

MR. KHARAS: So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming out this afternoon, despite the miserable weather.

 

My name is Homi Kharas.  I’m a Senior Fellow at the Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings.  I am going to moderate this discussion today.

 

So let me start by just asking any of you who haven’t already done so to please turn off your cell phones, pagers.  Put them on vibrate, something that doesn’t make too much of a noise.

 

And while you’re doing that, I will introduce a tremendously distinguished panel.  I think what we have today are three of the people who are the real global leaders in this fight that we have against a global food crisis today.

 

So, starting on my right is Robert Zoellick.  He became the eleventh President of the World Bank in 2007.  The World Bank is an institution that lends about $4 billion a year for agriculture.  And President Zoellick has announced plans that may double that by 2012.  So the Bank, I think, is going to be a very important player.

 

He has, before that, worked in the private sector.  He was the U.S. Trade Representative; he’s well known as a champion of free trade; and he was the one who described malnutrition, or nutrition, as the “forgotten MDG,” and has been a really strong advocate for paying more attention to nutrition.

 

So welcome, President Zoellick.

 

MR. ZOELLICK: Thank you.

 

MR. KHARAS: Next to him we have Sam Worthington.  Mr. Worthington is President and CEO of InterAction.  InterAction is the largest umbrella grouping of U.S. non-profits and foundations who are active in overseas development.  All the household names that you will know that deal with food and hunger issues in developing countries are part of that grouping -- so, Oxfam America, and World Relief, and CARE, and Food for the Hungry, Bread for the World, Save the Children, they’re all part of InterAction.

 

InterAction members -- I think there are something like 150 of them -- disburse something like $6 billion a year, in total -- not just for agriculture.  So it’s a pretty substantial organization.

 

And the last thing I saw from InterAction was their strong support for U.S. legislation on a global food security act, which also calls for the appointment of a special coordinator for global food security.  And maybe that’s something that we’ll come back to discuss in a little bit.

 

So, welcome, Sam.

 

And then, Josette Sheeran is Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme.  The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency.  It feeds 102 million people in 78 countries.  Last year she mobilized $5 billion to help feed the world.  This year again she has warned that the perfect storm of the food, fuel and financial crises are coming back, causing urgent hunger problems.

 

It is Ms. Sheeran who coined the term “the silent tsunami,” which we’ve borrowed for this afternoon’s discussion, to describe the global food crisis.

 

So, welcome, Ms. Sheeran.

 

So, what we’re going to do today is we’re going to have a panel discussion.  I’m going to start with a few questions for our panel.  That will take us something like 40 minutes or so, and then I’m going to open it up for questions and answers from the floor.

 

But because the panelists decided not to make opening statements themselves, I thought it might be useful to just quickly give you a few facts about the issues and the things that we’re going to be talking about, just to try to put this in perspective and frame the discussion.

 

So I sat down and came up with a top-ten factoids list on food and hunger, and I’d like to quickly go through those.

 

So -- number one, the MDG target on hunger is to reduce the proportion of undernourished to 10 percent by 2015.  So today the estimate is that we’re at 17 percent, which is down from 20 percent in 1990.  So we haven’t gotten very far.  We’re past the halfway mark.  And that 17 percent is equivalent to 1 billion hungry people worldwide.

 

Number two, 200 million of these undernourished people, which is one-third of the total, live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Number three, more that 60 percent of the chronically hungry are women.

 

Four, 150 million children under the age of five -- which is one-quarter of all the children in developing countries -- are underweight.

 

Five, iron and iodine deficiency impair the mental development of 40 to 60 percent of children in developing countries.

 

Six, 20 percent of maternal mortality deaths can be traced to malnutrition.

 

Seven, agricultural labor productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa has actually declined over most of the past two decades, even though output itself has gone up slightly.

 

Eight, post-harvest losses in developing countries are estimated at somewhere between 10 to 40 percent, and then there is another fairly significant fraction which is wasted in retailing and consumption processes.

 

Nine, the share of aid going to agricultural production and food was 33 percent in 1970.  It declined to 17 percent in 1980, 4 percent in 2006, and has since started to recover a bit.

 

And, 10, international food prices today are about 50 percent higher than they were in 2003, even though they’ve declined a bit from their peak level in 2008. Cereal prices are up by about 70 percent.

 

So that’s the world we live in. It’s a description of an enormous problem on our hands.  Certainly, for me, the dimensions of this problem are a little bit overwhelming.  And the challenges that are reported seem to cover pretty much everything from food production to marketing, to income levels, composition of demand, level and targeting of resources.  There’s just a vast array of these issues.

 

So I thought it would be useful to start our discussion by talking a bit about priorities.

 

So -- Mr. Zoellick, would you kick us off by telling us, giving us a few short remarks about, first, why was food so neglected in the past?  Why did we have this collapse of attention?  And then what led us into the current crisis, and what do you see as the priorities going forward?

 

MR. ZOELLICK: Okay.  Well, first, let me thank you and Brookings for having the three of us.  Sam has been a fantastic partner with us.  And all of you that work with the NGO and civil-society community know what a challenge it is to represent a diverse group.  But Sam’s really done so in a very effective way.

 

And just one point is that during a crisis like this obviously everybody’s under strain, but that includes the charitable community.   And this was some of the work that we’ve done, some of the NGOs have been good partners in the field as well as advocates -- so don’t forget them as you do your year-end accounts.

 

And Josette Sheeran has been a colleague of mine for a number of years.  It’s always a little tough to be on a panel with her because you already see how she coined two good phrases, including the one that people are using for the panel.  So I never can quite catch up with the phrase.

 

But -- thank you for the compliment, but it’s really Josette who helped draw my attention to some of the nutrition issues with a Lancet article that we tried to focus on together.  And I think it’s a good example of how the Bank can work with different UN agencies.

 

One good piece of news, you mentioned about $4 billion of agricultural investment.  We’re now up to six. So we’ve actually sought to increase that.

 

Trying to come to your particular questions, I think there are a lot of things that probably led to the decline in the focus in investment in agricultural.  I think there was perhaps an overconfidence in the ability of global agricultural production, and the ability of trade markets to work effectively.  And perhaps an assumption that, as part of the development process, while many people know that agricultural areas are poor, that people who might live as small holders would be drawn to other economic occupations with growth.  And I think that was probably an overestimate.

 

At the Bank, we had done a world development report a couple of years ago that focused on the benefits, not only for the people involved in an economy through growth in agriculture, but, not surprisingly, because these are rural sector activities, they tend to have a much greater multiplier effect in terms of overcoming poverty.  And so that’s one reason where we thought that we ought to try to see where we could step up our activities.

 

Now there have been, you know, throughout history some tremendous examples of investments in agriculture, like the Green Revolution -- with the late Norman Borlaug.  But I think one of the areas that we’re trying to focus on -- and we could come back to this -- is to look at the whole value chain -- so, everything from property rights to seeds to fertilizers to, as you said, marketing, sort of distribution issues.

 

And that’s a good segue, perhaps into your second questions, which is, I think, the cause of the big price spike.

 

I think part of it was multiple effects, and it started with low stocks.  And I draw this to people’s attentions, because you continue to have low stocks today.  You combine low stocks with some exogenous events -- and, in this case, one of them was some droughts, some difficult weather conditions.  And then a linkage that has changed from the past is we’ve seen a much closer linkage between fuel and food prices -- fuel not only being an input into production in agriculture but, particularly with bio-fuels, there’s a debate about the degree of connectivity, but we’ve found some rather high connections.  So when oil prices go up you see this pull up food prices.

 

Now, that crisis quickly led to a breakdown in markets.  And so it was, in this case, not a problem of markets being too extensive, but markets failing to work.

 

Part of it started with a rice tender in the Philippines.  And rice is a product where you have about 7 percent is the traded market as I recall.  So it’s a rather thin market.  This started to set prices up.

 

And then you had another phenomenon that’s differed in the past, which is commodities in general, including food commodities, are now considered an asset-class for investors.  So if you have different investors, they’re going to go where they see some price opportunities.  So you had what looked like a potential price spike, you had people moving into this as a potential investor class.

 

And then you had what Josette and I were making a major effort to try to stop, which was export barriers and hoarding which, just as it was in any commodity crisis -- I remember this first in my experience are some of the oil crises in the United States, where everybody would keep full tanks of gas, that all of a sudden that increased the overall demand.

 

So those together, I think, shot prices up.

 

But then one of the things that’s very important is to keep in mind -- you always -- well, you have to look at global market conditions, you have to disaggregate.  So within those markets, there’s going to be particular crises.  And this particularly deals with some of the challenges for the World Food Programme.  You may have natural disasters.  You may have conflicts that exacerbate the problem.

 

Now, any multidimensional problem is probably going to need a multidimensional solution.  And I think, again, one of the lessons is there’s no one silver bullet.

 

And I would just highlight at least five areas to focus on.

 

First -- and we’re fortunate to have Josette and some of her team here -- I really think it’s important for the world to recognize the front-line role that the World Food Programme plays with these issues.  And when I say “front line,” I’m not just using this as a term of art.  Josette probably wouldn’t even mention this, but she just came here from the Middle East, where some of her people were in hospitals from being shot up in some of the countries they serve.  This is an organization that actually loses people every year, and they are in some of the most dangerous circumstances.

 

So one of the problems, frankly, in the UN funding system is, as you pointed out, they have to be funded from scratch every year.  So, I don’t know, your normal funding was about $3 billion, last year it was up to $5, $5-1/2 billion.  This year it may even need to be more.  To try to raise that from scratch is a very difficult task.

 

Now, that isn’t the case for all institutions.  Our IDA money is done with three-year pledges.  Frankly, some of the other UN agencies have different contributions.

 

So one of the issues, frankly, is can we improve the world funding system if we think that these are types of risks.

 

Another piece that, again, I think Josette and her people have done very well is not just see this as a food issue, but connecting the food to the locations, and particularly the nutritional aspects, where there have been some very interesting advances, including working with the private sector.

 

And then one of the things that we’re actually trying to experiment with the World Food Programme is how can we take this business model that came out of the ‘60s and try to improve its effectiveness and efficiency.  And this ranges from everything from working with the World Meteorological Organization to do long-range weather forecasting in Africa, so you have some sense of what’s coming, to be able to get lines of funding, effective risk management, so you don’t have to basically see the crisis, raise the money, buy the food, transport the food -- all fraught with inefficiencies.  And this is a wonderful example of where, frankly, with a little bit of creativity -- and it looks like Josette’s gotten the Australians to help her on this -- with some advanced funding, we could probably make it both more effective, and cut costs.

 

So this is -- when people talk about making multilateral institutions work, we’ve got some practical examples.  This doesn’t have to be whiz-bang stuff.  The state of the art is all there, and it’s just a question of putting it together with donor support.

 

A second, and related, issue which we’ve been trying to be involved in is use of targeted safety nets.  And one of the lessons that we learned coming out of the 1990s financial crisis was that macroeconomic stabilization isn’t enough.  And what you saw in many countries is, if you didn’t have money go to the appropriate safety-net programs, kids got pulled out of school, they didn’t get the right food, they lost in nutrition.  And, frankly, you could lose a generation.

 

I mean, just to give a sense of -- you mentioned some interesting data points.  We’ve done some research in Guatemala which actually look at controlled sets.  And kids that got better nutrition, their earning power was 45 percent higher than others.  So you can really see that this can be a huge, huge effect.

 

Now, frankly, how do you deliver it?  With some countries that have conditional cash-transfer programs, like Mexico and Brazil, you’ve got one model.  One of the ways we’ve trying to team with the World Food Programme, and where we launched a study together, is to look at things like school feeding: how can you take the school feeding model and expand it with nutrition, reach back to kids that are more vulnerable?  The real nutrition danger is between pregnancy and the first 24 months.  How can you take the capacity of a country with a food-for-work program, or other aspects?

 

The third, which you’ve touched on, is, obviously, what can we do to increase production and productivity in agriculture, looking across the value chain?  And if we’re adroit, how can we connect that with the procurement of an organization like the WFP so we could get a win-win connection here?

 

Fourth, trade.  We saw this tremendous problem that there really was no international prohibition, or even customary rule against creating barriers to food purchases -- even for the World Food Programme.  So Josette and I were running around the world trying to say -- at a time that everybody makes speeches, could we at least get some understanding?  Maybe a UN declaration that says, at least don’t prevent purchases from a humanitarian organization.

 

And, frankly, what we ended up doing was a lot of that, frankly, just one-on-one, trying to go to different countries.

 

But obviously, there’s other areas that would be related, for example, to the Doha Round, in terms of reducing barriers and subsidies.

 

And the last, and a critical one, is the R&D agenda.  And here we’ve worked with the Gates Foundation, and others have, as well.  And, again, some of this is actually just expanding what’s out there.

 

Don’t hold me to the exact figures, but my rough recollection was about 5 percent of the seeds in Sub-Saharan Africa are enhanced, compared to about 40 percent in South Asia.  And I’m not even talking about biotechnology.  I’m just talking about sort of hybrid variations.

 

And there are so many opportunities with enhanced vitamins in different products and other things where, with research, I think we could help deal with sort of the benefit of the food.  But then the other question is, how do you get the research out in the field?  You know, a lot of countries -- the United States, Europe -- have had histories of extension services.  Well, how can we build into the developing countries?

 

So as, I think, with any problem -- and one of the things we were just talking about a little bit in advance -- my worry is this is not a problem -- as Josette will say, it never ended.  But I’m worried we could be through another round of this.

 

Because if you watched, again, the rice market, the Philippines has had a challenging tender.  I was just talking with some Indians who are here with the Prime Minister’s visit.  It looks like India will be importing rice for the first time in a very long time.  So you combine that with, frankly, a lot of liquidity in money markets, and I’m a little bit concerned that we could see ourselves in 2010 repeating some of this problem.

 

MR. KHARAS: Okay.  Well, thank you.  I mean, that’s fairly comprehensive.  It’s a very daunting agenda that you’ve set out to tackle.

 

MR. ZOELLICK: Just to set the point on the daunting —

 

MR. KHARAS: Mm-hmm.

 

MR. ZOELLICK: And we’ll get into this in discussion -- you know, there are things -- part of the challenge here is, you know, you get a problem like this that’s multidimensional and everybody goes away staggered and say, “Oh, I wish we could do something.”

 

Some of the things that Josette and I were just talking about -- or, frankly, the Australian government looks like they’ll help us with -- they could make a big difference.  I mean, so, goodness, why does some UN agency have sort of pre-funding, but the WFP can’t even get a credit line, or can’t get sort of advanced funding.

 

So there are ways -- and, again, we get advance funding.  We get a three-year for IDA.  Why can’t they get a commitment.

 

So there’s things, if you could do that, you could free up -- and, you know, we’re not exactly untutored in futures markets.  We can use futures markets for shipping and food prices and other different things. 

 

There’s a lot of ways that if, frankly, governments didn’t just talk about this, but they actually looked at the mechanisms, you could improve this pretty quickly.

 

MR. KHARAS: Okay.  Well, that sounds to me like a cue for you, Ms. Sheeran.

 

I mean, you’ve said the food crisis may be returning, and we might be faced with another -- or that we didn’t even get through the old food crisis before.  And that you might even have to ration your abilities to provide food in some countries.

 

So how do you prioritize?  And do you think that there is any movement toward getting more multi-year fundings for some of your operations?

 

MS. SHEERAN: Well, thank you.

 

Well, first, on the food crisis, I don’t think it was a one-off phenomenon.  And I think what it was was more of a wake-up call.  It exposed fault-lines in access to food from the village level up through the national, regional and global level.

 

And I think what we’re seeing today, with the financial crisis, is a compounding issue that’s driving up the numbers of hungry in the world.

 

Just to illustrate this, this is a cup from our school feeding program in Rwanda.  And I use this to show, when we’re talking about vulnerability, just what we’re talking about.  For a billion people, they’ll wake up tomorrow and not be sure they can even fill a simple cup like this with some porridge or food.

 

That’s the level of vulnerability we’re talking about for almost 230 million children, and for adults around the world.

 

This is inherently destabilizing.  It’s unacceptable.  And, in fact, the numbers keep increasing, and just in the past two years went from 840 million to over a billion.

 

It’s impossible to keep up with this just from a humanitarian perspective.  We partner with over a thousand NGOs--and I think probably all of Sam’s partners.  But you’re seeing new types of partnerships.   And I will say, working with the World Bank has really been a blessing for us, to get the kind of policy guidance and expertise that can come with the types of programs we do, so they’re built in with a more long-term, sustainable type of foundation.

 

We released with the Bank today a book called Rethinking School Feeding, that looked at 45 years of evidence of how -- of WFP’s activities in many, many countries, including starting school feeding programs, that provide a basic safety net.

 

Now, in the developed world, these things are such a part of life that we don’t even realize the effect they have on the stabilization of hunger numbers.  In the United States today, one out of every six Americans is drawing on a food-safety net -- either what used to be called “food stamps,” now “SNAP,” school lunches.  So when times are tough, these safety nets can catch people who get pushed into hard times.

 

Most of the world has no such safety net.  The safety net is, will there be a humanitarian response to help deal with these pressures?  So all the risk is in this cup.  This is where you see the volatility happening.  And there’s not many mitigating institutions in between.

 

I’m sorry -- that’s another example of good activity.

 

But so what we are really looking to is working with the longer-term partners to model programs that can be part of a stabilization for societies, and can be a benefit.  If you feed this cup with produce from local farms, you’re now getting a virtuous circle, where you’re pulling in locally produced goods, and helping increase farmers’ incomes.  You’re helping increase household incomes by 10 percent.  And if you give kids an extra ration at the end of the week for perfect attendance, especially girls, you’re then building in a logic and a 25 percent increase in household income.

 

If you put a de-worming pill in here, you’re really revolutionizing a kid’s life.  If you put sprinkles of micro nutrients -- another example, costs a penny or two -- you’re now changing the types of things like night blindness and the damage that can happen to kids that cost and put a big burden on GDP.

 

Now, we know we have to get the under-two-year-olds.  There, the damage is done for life if we don’t reach them.  But also for kids to be able to go to school and not have to beg or do other things to get food.  This becomes essential.

 

So we have tried, in the wake of the food crisis, to really ramp up, but also learn and work with partners that can help us do our work in a more effective way.  And I think you’re seeing new types of partnerships -- including with the private sector -- where we can learn better about how to fortify food effectively so these aren’t empty calories.

 

So just a couple of thoughts I come out of the food crisis with.

 

It’s very important not just to make sure the cup’s filled, but what is it filled with?   Is it helping deal with the underlying micro nutrient deficiencies?  And, by the way, with these multiple crises, food and financial, the bottom billion is going into a micro nutrient deficiency epidemic.  Because the more you don’t have access to adequate food, this damage is getting deeper.

 

Secondly, I think volatility in price and supply are with us for the foreseeable future.  So after 30 years of basically food volume increasing and prices decreasing, we’re now seeing pricing very volatile.  This is a very deep problem for poor farmers, who aren’t sure they should plant and invest in the inputs, because they don’t know what price is going to be.  So it’s kind of a compounding problem that we’re seeing.  So risk is the new normal.

 

And I would just call for two things: one is effective safety-net action.  Because the food crisis was an access crisis.  It wasn’t, to start out, a production crisis.  Now you have kind of compounding factors, and people cannot access food if they can’t afford it.  And so that’s very, very critical.

 

And, secondly, a risk revolution for poor farms -- a reduction-in-risk revolution for poor farmers and the hungry.  They can’t plant if they don’t know where prices are going to be.  And there is no risk mitigation.  So we’re looking also -- the World Bank and WFP a number of years back did the first drought insurance pilot with USAID in Ethiopia.  And these models now are growing, where you can help mitigate risk. 

 

We need some big innovative thinking and partnerships to deal with the fact that these long-term drivers of price and supply volatility are in place, such as climatic changes -- again, the drought in India.  Same thing we saw two years ago, drought in Australia really affecting global supply and driving up price.

 

We’re seeing scarcity in water and land.  We’re seeing conflict and other drivers that are really with us for the years to come, and we have to have effective policy responses, too.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thanks. So, you’ve really emphasized the notion of safety nets, as I think Mr. Zoellick did, as well.

 

Mr. Worthington, your organization’s probably dealing with issues of lack of safety nets more than pretty much anybody else.  And, you know, in some countries -- in countries like India, for example -- they have their own safety nets.  They have employment guarantee schemes.  China, which is another place with lots of malnourished people, they have safety nets.

 

So does this mean that we’re actually talking more about a crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa than a global crisis?  Is that the nature of the priorities?

 

And where do your organizations see the priorities lying?

 

MR. WORTHINGTON: Well, first, thank you for the opportunity to join these distinguished organizations.  And I think part of the evolution of the world’s responses to these type of crises is the fact that civil society is now seen as an active participant -- and, in fact, indispensable to the solution.  And even more so, the northern civil society, the InterAction members and so forth, it really is civil society in the developing world, the poorest countries, and their ability to reach out to poor farmers and work with them.

 

Because when we talk about the heart of this problem, and the face of this problem, it is a woman farmer, living on marginal land, with poor access to water, at a road where the market often does not reach, where her husband may have migrated to a local town.  And her ability to feed her child depends on the cycle of the seasons.  And unfortunately you have climate change, those rains are coming less frequently or more frequently, resulting in greater hardship and a further marginalization of her ability to, in essence, have family that is able to feed itself and, most importantly, have the appropriate nutrition to grow up healthy.

 

That person, that family, is at the heart of the world food crisis we’re facing.  In many ways, that person’s existed for millennia. 

 

And I think what’s happened most recently, with the onset of this crisis, was a number of things that to some extent spurred nations to act.  The first was perhaps a sense that we actually have the ingredients to really make a substantive difference in the lives of this woman farmer.

 

Another shift is perhaps the fact that now that since the majority of the world’s poor live in urban areas, urban hunger is a reality.  That translates into riots, that translates into insecurity.  It translates into governments being concerned about what is happening to their people. 

 

So that the concept of dealing with hunger in a sense ultimately becomes one of the affordability of food for urban poor, which gets right to the heart of a safety net.  Because if you don’t have those safety-net valves -- well beyond Africa -- as prices increase, you will be confronting challenges with your urban poor and their ability to feed themselves.  And they will translate that concern into political action or movement on the streets.

 

But I think the key message -- and, to some extent, I’m glad I’m sitting in the middle here -- is that ultimately any attempt to deal with food insecurity moves from a continuum from emergency to long-term production.  And our challenge as a world is we need to be doing all of them roughly at the same time.

 

And there has been a tendency as a surplus nation, the United States, to go “we could help feed the world.”  And the reality is, yes, those resources are needed as a part of a safety net, but increasingly it is ultimately about the world’s ability to feed themselves.  And it’s the ability to have safety nets that are part of local and national governments’ safety-net plans, and not external ones.

 

Because in many ways, we’re civil society institutions, we’re filling the cracks in the global economy, in the global attempt to ensure human well-being around the world.  And as much as these are nimble institutions and quite large -- some of our members have 40,000 staff -- and there’s a massive infrastructure, largely privately funded, and there are literally tens of billions of dollars that go into these programs, to get to a situation where the largest funder of long-term agricultural efforts from the United States government for the last 15 years or so were U.S. NGOs, and not the U.S. government, shows just how far we’ve retreated from this problem.

 

And one of the positive things of this latest food crisis, which is in many ways not over -- Josette was mentioning the prices remain very high in many countries -- and food insecurity continues to be the case, is that the world attention has now focused on this crisis.

 

And so the question then becomes how do you reach -- if 70 percent of the world’s poor are poor farmers, and the majority of those farmers are women, how do you reach them?  And, yes, it’s about UN institutions coming in when the system collapses and ensuring that food, that this red cup is available to feed someone, or us partnering with the World Food Programme  -- whether it’s World Vision, or Save the Children, or CARE, or any other organization -- ensuring that cup gets that last kilometer to a village so that someone is fed -- yes, that needs to continue to happen.

 

But, ultimately, it’s helping those women farmers have access to some form of market, to be able to be organized in farmer cooperatives, to be able to have access to some form of routine irrigation.  And in many ways, I think our challenge is, is because we’ve built systems that require large external inputs for production, she is not able to cope with large external fertilizer inputs on some scale.  And how do we get to her level of scale -- because ultimately, it’s the hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers that will solve this problem, and not a large, overall global production that someone is increasing distribution to these remote rural areas through safety nets.

 

So it is this small-holder focus.  It is a recognition that there is a real gender dimension -- that this is, ultimately, about the ability to have women be empowered over their own economic resources.  And in many ways, I think there’s a tendency in our country to look at this as a production problem, rather than the real heart of this, is nutritional outputs -- is to what extent are children healthier?  Are we able to see fewer malnourished mouths out there?

 

Unfortunately -- and I think this is perhaps why it is so urgent that the world continue its, perhaps, broad waking up to this challenge is, in many ways, it’s entirely possible that this challenge will get worse.  If you look at climate change, and a 2 degree increase of Celsius worldwide, you’re looking at potentially a 20 percent decrease in production of foods in Sub-Saharan Africa.  That’s making the situation worse, not better.

 

It does mean that the ability to have food banks, the ability to have a stock set aside -- this gets to the issue of the types of seeds available -- the ability to provide some additional tools for that small farmer who tends to still be at the end of that road, slightly beyond the market, is crucial.  And, if anything, that effort needs to increase.

 

I think there is a challenge, also, for the broad NGO community around the world, the civil society.  Our community has the tendency to operate with small-scale projects, help a group of farmers in a valley, enabling them to have better access to water, increase their production.  But this will not work unless we see ourselves as part of a broader value change, a reaching up to markets.

 

There needs to be an ability to reach those markets from the small-scale farmer, so this top-down approach -- a traditional development approach of developing the capacity of the state, developing the capacity of the private sector to reach down -- needs to also recognize the importance of helping the small-scale farmer to reach up, and giving her the tools to do so.

 

MR. KHARAS: So let me just push you a little bit on this, because you’ve talked about this continuum between emergency assistance and long-term productivity of small-holder farmers.

 

But at the end of that day, you know, a lot of this comes down to money, and your ability to mobilize money.  And your community has been very successful in mobilizing money for emergency assistance.

 

Do you think that you can be as successful in mobilizing funds for the other elements that you’ve talked about?  And especially in today’s environment, where I know that foundations and charities are hurting, can you actually generate the funds to move in this direction?

 

MR. WORTHINGTON: Sadly, nothing sells better than an emergency. 

 

That said, I think there is an educational responsibility that rests upon our community.  We saw this with how we approached HIV-AIDS in this country, where there was a concerted effort to reach out to the American public to get them to understand the disease and what could be done.

 

The same becomes -- ultimately the question of the donor is, “Can you actually make a difference?”  And the donor is looking less for the red cup of feeding someone, and the ability of helping someone feed themselves.

 

So the more we could explain that we are part of that solution, I think the more you’ll find that the broad public will continue to give.  And, most importantly, provide the political will behind the resources that are needed to sustain -- whether it’s infusions of resources into the World Bank or the WFP or other institutions -- my biggest fear, and much as we could applaud the G-8 for some of the very good numbers they come up with in terms of food security, is we seem to forget. 

 

We seem to hit a high number, and then the crisis goes, and then the numbers go back down to a lower level.  And I’m hoping that we’re not waiting for a large-scale famine in Kenya or Somalia to wake up the world that we really need to act now.

 

And, unfortunately, because prevention is cheaper, but political will comes, unfortunately, oftentimes with the disaster.

 

MR. KHARAS: So, Ms. Sheeran, let me put the same question to you.  Do you think that your abilities to raise money for short-term emergency assistance are hampered by these broader calls for long-term funding for agricultural development?

 

MS. SHEERAN: Well, there’s three points I would like to make.

 

One is, the world should remember that when it comes to emergency response, when all else fails -- and unfortunately we have many hundreds of millions of citizens caught in situations, for a variety of reasons, bad governance, conflict -- in situations where they cannot eat, there is only one pool for emergency response.  There is no private sector investment, there is no university investment, there is no research endowment.

 

The emergency money on the table is all there is to reach those citizens who are somehow left behind without any food.  So we have to keep that up.

 

And there will always be a need for it.  The key is, can we reduce that load to really being true emergencies -- you know, war hits, conflict hits -- rather than the chronic caseloads, where you’re not seeing the hunger numbers budge.

 

Secondly, I think we have to tie in the logic of emergency response with long-term solutions.  And so the revolution that World Food Programme has been in is today, we spend 80 percent of our cash for food, purchasing from developing-world farmers themselves.  This Purchasing for Progress, which we’re modeling with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Howard Buffett Foundation, and with many nations, we’ve purchased over a billion dollars of food from African farmers last year.

 

And let me just give you a quick example.  In Senegal, a food-deficit nation, even there we’re able to buy the salt from the farmers.  There’s salt in every ration that WFP does.  Long story short, today we’re buying our salt in Senegal from 7,000, mostly women, village producers who now, for the first time in their life, have a guaranteed income because they have our contract.  And we do this with Canada in the Micronutrient Initiative.

 

Secondly, they never iodized the salt, because the salt produced at the village level, they haven’t had the equipment and training, but for us they have to.  And when they sell salt in the village now, it’s iodized.  So the iodine-deficiency disorder in Senegal is being impacted by this.

 

Third, they’re helping to feed their own nation, and very proud about it.

 

So let’s just look at the one dollar of investment in emergency food aid now becomes a win for the women -- it’s the same dollar -- who now have a guaranteed income.  Secondly, it becomes a win because of the micro -- they’re iodizing the salt and dealing with that larger health problem.  Third, the women are helping feed their own country.  And fourth, the child gets their ration with the salt.

 

This type of logic has to be imbedded wherever we can, to do that. 

 

This is where the safety nets come in.  If you’re reaching children in school, you have multiple benefits.   And 30 of the nations we have modeled school lunch programs in over the last 45 years have taken over those programs permanently.  It’s not permanent charity.

 

So you’re identifying and targeting the most needy populations.  You’re tying it to a logic of local production.  And you can scale-up when times are bad and scale-down when times are not so rough.

 

This type of thing gets out of kind of a soup-kitchen mentality, which has the least kind of win-win-win benefits.  So whenever you can tie it into a logic that’s building some stability, framework for action, building up local capacity -- there are, if I could just mention, a few other kinds of safety nets.

 

School lunches and school meals make a lot of sense in many, many countries.  Brazil’s Bolsa Familia program, where they give cash to people to buy from local farmers, this is now creating a demand-driven input into the society there that’s getting the hunger numbers down quicker than in any country.  Brazil is a curve buster as far as income growth and hunger reduction, thanks to these types of interventions.

 

So, the developing world itself has developed models that are very, very critical.  And vouchers for the urban poor are a powerful tool that help the stores and shops that weren’t having business.

 

So anytime you can tie in this kind of response that helps build up local markets, build up local response, invest in the localities, I think you’re getting -- you know, will find more support for these programs that actually build in sustainable solutions.

 

MR. KHARAS: Mr. Zoellick, I know that you’ve been working very hard to try to get the 20 billion pledged at (inaudible) to be operationalized.

 

Is this going to happen?  And is this money going to be incremental?  Or is it going to be something which is going to be taken away from whoever comes next to Brookings and says, you know, “Education is really the key development priority.”

 

MR. ZOELLICK: From what I can see so far, it’s going to be a mixture, as these things usually are.

 

But let me connect that to the points that Josette and Sam made, in one other variation to your question.

 

You mentioned about will people support food, agricultural production and that aspect of food security, as opposed to the emergency assistance.

 

When I was at L’Aquila, I was actually a little worried that the pendulum was going the other way.  And I think Josette and Sam and others have helped get a better balance here.

 

Some people honestly thought, well if you get people to produce the food, then you won’t have the crisis.  And as Josette said, you will.  So one critical point is to see this as a continuum.  And what she’s outlined, and a lot of what she’s done with WFP is, take the traditional notion of food aid and broaden it to a food assistance.  And then connect it with some of the work we do.

 

So part of this is, in development or any of these issues, there tends to be this silver bullet -- you know, as if, you know, there weren’t intelligent people in the world before that might have thought about some of these things.  The question is, how do you interconnect them?

 

So the critical point is, how do you keep a food assistance agenda linked to the other ones?

 

Secondly, just to build on the point that both of them made about one of the reasons we looked at school feeding.  I think one of the challenges, whether you’re looking at education, or whether you’re looking at health, or whether you’re looking at gender issues, or whether you’re looking at food issues is -- look, times are tough.  Governments don’t have a lot of resources.  How can you leverage a platform further?

 

And Josette mentioned Bolsa Familia.  This is one of these conditional cash-transfer programs.  Mexico has the Oportunidades program.  And it’s a wonderful example, because the case goes to the poorest.  But, in return, they have to send their kids to school, and people get health check-ups.  And it’s probably done more for women’s health in Mexico than anything in the history of the country.

 

But the thing that’s intriguing about it is you’re being able to connect education, basic health, sort of basic sustenance.

 

Now, one of the reasons that we were looking at school feeding is that, frankly, a lot of people grew up thinking it was school feeding from their own experience, and thinking of it in a more narrow sense.  And what this book that we put together looks is to recognize, in poor countries, the local school is the natural platform.  It’s the natural community device.

 

So how can you take that and extend it back?  And, you know, what you’ve seen are people experiment.  You know, one is, in addition to feeding the kids at school, you give them some food to take home -- you know? 

 

What else can you try to do to use that to connect -- including at this critical issue of those from the pregnancy to the two years?  If you do the supplements, then you help deal with the health issue, the de-worming issue.  So part of this, I think, for those of us trying to be concerned about human development, is to always look to see how we can interconnect these more.

 

I was on a task force with the Gordon Brown people looking at innovative health financing.  And you can do a certain amount that way but, frankly, if you’re really going to be effective, you have to try to connect it to these other devices.

 

And then the third element, going back a little bit to where Sam went and Josette mentioned, but taking it a step further, I think all of us can do a lot more to actually help people be in a position to help themselves by managing risks.  So at the end of the day -- absent those weather calamities or conflict issues -- you do want people to be able to stand on their own two feet.  But if you’re a small-holder farmer -- I always remember an incident that people gave me one of the times I went to India after I came to this job.  They said, “You know, Bob, the people who -- the farmers who are committing suicide are actually not the self-supporting farmers.  They’re people who were just starting to make the movement into the market economy, and they drill a well, and then they don’t hit water, and they got nothing to take care of them.”

 

So some of the things that Josette mentioned, we’re now doing this with Malawi, where you can do index futures to sort of -- it, frankly, in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 5 percent of the agriculture is irrigated.  So if it rains, you have crops.  If it doesn’t, you’re in trouble.

 

Well, you can be able to use things to kind of offset some of that risk.  But what Sam also mentioned is, you know, I’ve asked that we try to work some others to think about, without replicating some of the expensive farm programs that developed countries have, what can you do to offset some of the risks of a small property holder facing global markets?

 

So I think part of the challenge here will be to recognize, on the one hand, as in any other aspect of the economy, you’ve got global phenomena.  And if prices, you know, shoot up, you know, because of a rice tender in the Philippines it’s going to affect everybody everywhere.  But you’ve got very special circumstances you have to customize for.

 

And, frankly, one of the things that we should be better at is the customization of solution packages.  And so, in a way, I think one of the challenges when people want to raise food security as an issue, is not to just make it the silver bullet, but to try to see these interconnections.

 

And coming back to Sam’s work, one of the things, frankly, we launched at the World Bank, and just in the nick of time, was -- and this, by the way, gives you a little insight on economists.  When we were watching the commodity prices increase, at my morning staff meeting I was asking people, well, gee, isn’t this going to put a burden, you know, on certain communities?

 

And the first response was, “Well, a lot of these countries will actually do well, because overall commodity prices are increasing and they’ll get more income.”  And the basic lesson there was -- disaggregate, okay?  That may be true for some, but it’s not going to be true for others.  And that’s one of the points Sam mentioned, in terms of urban areas.

 

So we put together a rapid financing facility.  But, when it comes time to delivery, there are certain things we can do that a lot of these projects -- I know we’ve got like 16 of them, with various CSOs, and we’ve got a number with the World Food Programme and UNICEF and others.  So, again, part of this is how do you think in a more networked fashion about how you can interconnect with others’ operations, because all that adds to efficiency, too.

 

MR. KHARAS: Okay.  Thanks.

 

So I’m going to throw this open to the floor now.  But I would like each of you to give me one sentence, if there is one thing -- I understand there are no silver bullets.  But if you did have one non-silver-bullet, give me one sentence, what would it be?

 

MS. SHEERAN: Wow.  Talk about being put on the spot.

 

MR. KHARAS: Mr. Worthington.

 

MS. SHEERAN: No, no, no.

 

A Billion for a Billion Campaign -- which we’ve just launched on WFP.org, where a billion citizens that have enough to eat connect, citizens’ action, with the billion who don’t, and make sure that even as governments act, that we at least get citizens connecting.  We raised, during the World Food Summit, enough money from that campaign to make sure that almost half a million kids had enough to eat.

 

We’re going to need this backup plan while we deal with the long-term solution.

 

MR. KHARAS: Right.

 

Mr. Worthington, one sentence.

 

MR. WORTHINGTON: The political momentum has started.  We need your political will to close it.

 

MR. KHARAS: Mr. Zoellick.

 

MR. ZOELLICK: I’ll endorse theirs.

 

(Laughter)

 

MR. KHARAS: Questions from the floor.

 

So -- gentleman in the blue shirt.

 

MR. KASSIM: I’m Mohammed Kassim.  I’m a bankrupt African farmer.  I’m the only farmer here, who everybody’s talking about.

 

I worked for five years at the World Bank designing rural (inaudible) projects, including an anti-opium project in Afghanistan, which was, of course, an oxymoron.

 

But I ran a 16,000 hectare operation in Zambia.  And my neighbors were poor women.  And I helped them to grow food because they needed help.   The men were not there.  And in Zambia you plant in November.  The men came in December and they did not get production.  So we helped them.

 

We proposed to the World Bank that they give us money to help all our neighbors -- 800 commercial farmers in Zambia produced half the food.  Because of the IMF and the World Bank, and the (inaudible) government  we were not paid.  The price of food was kept artificially low.  And, of course, the World Food Programme came along and, instead of paying us with real money; they paid South Africa with real money.  (Inaudible) there was an agreement.

 

You know, I don’t think this top-down approach works.  And I don’t think sending dispatchers out there -- at $200,000 a year, by the way, and that’s before the mark-ups -- is going to help, either.

 

You have to think differently.  And I don’t know how you’ll do that.

 

MR. KHARAS: Was there a question there?

 

MR. KASSIM: A statement.  Value adding.

 

MR. KHARAS: Right here.  The mike, please.

 

MR. SUONERY: Hello.  My name is Vitales Suonery.  I’m the Chairman of the Organization of African Professionals in Diaspora.  We are working closely with the African Union to mobilize diasporan Africans to play a role.

 

My remarks, or question, relate to the issue of remittances from Africans in diaspora, and how do we engage with the World Bank and the WTO and so on, to enhance the level of remittances.

 

Remittances, as you know, are -- you know, the last estimates from the World Bank I saw was putting it at the figure of almost $20 billion a year.  And there is now threatened -- and it’s now declining, and the crisis is getting worse.  And not only that, the global crisis is also hitting those of us in diaspora so that our level of remittances are declining.

 

And you know, remittances target these sectors you are talking about.   They go to schools, they go to hospitals, they go to food nutrition, and they go to all these areas -- critical -- that you’re talking about.  I get phone calls from my village, they’re talking about money, money, money.  They’re getting back from school.  And we have just finished a hospital project in my village to mobilize.

 

So the areas you’re talking about, is the areas we are (inaudible).  And the issue is how can we be engaged more effectively with the World Bank and other agencies to enhance the level of remittances.

 

It’s a pity that the current level of engagement with the World Bank and the African diaspora, I’m sorry to say, is not very effective.  And we have sent an appeal to the President of the World Bank, requesting that in his proposed reforms at Istanbul, to please ensure that these reforms reflect a more effective engagement between the Africans in diaspora and the World Bank.

 

And this engagement is very, very critical because these are the people that target these areas.  Can we find a way to meet with you, World Bank, review our proposal?  Our appeal was a 20-page appeal, and it put a complete assessment on the level of engagement with the Bank.  And we concluded that it’s not effective in directing attention to this critical area.

 

So we would appeal to the World Bank President to give us a chance to explore more ways of making these remittances effective and targeted to these critical areas.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thank you.

 

MR. SUONERY: And the sooner we can do that, the better.   I appreciate that.

 

And we appreciate your reform proposals at Istanbul.  They are very critical to make the World Bank more alive and innovative for the 20th Century -- the 21st Century.

 

Thank you very much.

 

MR. KHARAS: Question right at the back.

 

MS. SABAR: Hi.  Aisha Sabar, with the State Department.

 

As you guys know, we put together a very robust food security request to Congress from the State Department and USAID.  And we’re all holding our breath until December to see what comes out of it.

 

But there’s been a lot of discussion at the State Department on looking at what we’re going to do with the funding, depending on how much we get back.  And we put forward a request -- agricultural request for many countries outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

And so my question to you is, in a tight, money-constrained budget environment, where do you see our global priorities lying, outside of Sub-Saharan Africa?  Or should the focus be on Sub-Saharan Africa?

 

Because, as you know, there are a number of criteria to consider.  Beyond need, there’s also absorption capacity and host-country investment, and things like that.

 

MR. KHARAS: Okay.  Thank you.

 

MS. SABAR: Thank you.

 

MR. KHARAS: I’ll take one more in this round, because there’s a gentleman behind.

 

MR. BEREZ: Thank you.  Alex Berez, and (inaudible) News Service, Russian TV.  I have actually two questions.

 

Considering the situation with food security, is there any threat to the United States, China and Russia?

 

And the second question is, why food prices went high, while housing and oil prices were down during the crisis?

 

Thank you.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thank you.

 

Okay, let me give our panelists a chance to respond.  And then I’ll come back for one more round of questions, if we have time.

 

Ms. Sheeran, would you like to take the question about the priorities?  About funding?  From the State Department?

 

MS. SHEERAN: Sure.  First, I really want to offer great thanks to President Obama for putting this central in his agenda, for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for taking this up.

 

When food security becomes the business of secretary of states, presidents, treasury secretaries and agriculture secretaries, you know you’re starting to move the world in the right direction.  It’s rightly put at the top of their agenda.

 

I’ll do what I can, as many of us will, to really urge that this be fully backed.  And I want to really compliment three revolutionary “C’s” in this program.

 

“Country-led” -- the administration is looking to countries for their own plans, and looking to those pacesetter countries -- the Rwandas, the Malawis, the Zambias, the Ugandas, the Ghanas -- who are determined to be the next generation of countries to leave hunger behind, and help feed the region and help feed the world.  I mean, that is excellent.

 

Also, “Comprehensive” -- it’s not just looking at production; it’s looking at the (inaudible) zone of access to food.  How do you connect people to the production?

 

And we saw, for many years, Brazil becoming an agricultural powerhouse, not getting those numbers down, and then changing their approach toward a zero-hunger type approach and, I think, the comprehensive nature.

 

And, then, four, “Collaborative,” really bringing in not only multilateral institutions and countries, but the private sector, civil society and others to say “What can everyone bring to the table?”

 

Also, you’ve put gender front and center, and recognized that women play a particular role here.  So I think that’s critical.

 

I would say, you know, a huge part of this problem is in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Sub-Saharan Africa will be required to help feed the world.  The world has to produce a lot more food, and we see a lot of investment going into Africa today -- but, I think, rightly so.  Because we have so many countries poised to go over the tipping point of hunger.

 

But I wouldn’t forget the Central Americas and other regions of the world, which have made huge gains.  And we can’t really afford to have them fall back, as they struggle with the pressures of the financial crisis, and extreme weather, and other crises.

 

So we would hope to see a little broader reach from the pacesetting countries that are ready to really make the tipping-point from food dependency to food security.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thank you.

 

Mr. Worthington, would you like to take the question about thinking differently?

 

MR. WORTHINGTON: I agree with the point about a significant bottom-up approach needs to be part of the solution.  And by “thinking differently,” I think it also needs to recognize that the solutions have to be local.  The idea of sending expatriates around the world -- perhaps linking farmers to farmers makes a lot of sense -- but when you look at our community, it’s 97, 98 percent locally staffed.  This is a global solution with local capacity, and it is building on that capacity to try to make a difference.

 

The other bit of thinking differently is when we tend to think about foreign assistance, there tends to be a thought of official development assistance.  Let’s broaden that a bit.  Let’s talk about private flows of development assistance.

 

Total private development flows -- and I’m not talking remittances yet -- is about $52, $53 billion around the world.  In fact, our community, for every dollar we get  from the U.S. government has two-plus dollars of private resources.  There are massive flows of development resources that are private.

 

On top of that, you then have the remittances.  And then you get the direct investments and other flows.

 

Until we look at the whole range of resources available to development we will tend to act as individual actors in our lanes.  And the time where NGOs could do nice, neat projects -- or even the World Bank do a nice, neat project -- without talking to the NGO next door, or to the UN body, or engagement with the government is over.  We need all those assets available.

 

And, ultimately, this gets down to the issue of focus.  If your focus is truly on the small-holder farmer, and the focus is truly on women in those farms, and that is the metrics by which you’re judging your success and that you’re looking at nutritional outcomes, you’re going to end up with your programs in the right place.

 

And you need to have that degree of sort of lens.  The recognition, however, to achieve those results is going to be multifaceted, is going to be multi-institutional, will require private investment, or public ODA, but also will require private ODA, remittances, and broad investment.

 

And I think the broader remittance question is, we need to be able to look at ways to shift remittances more into projects.  But oftentimes -- and this is the challenge for the developing-world nation states, those resources will not be flowing through the local government.  But they will be flowing through local civil society.  And local civil society needs to be seen as part and parcel of your development program and your solution on the ground.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thank you.

 

Mr. Zoellick, there was a question about effective engagement of the World Bank.

 

MR. ZOELLICK: I’m going to take all four real quickly.

 

(Laughter)

 

MR. ZOELLICK: I had time to write thoughts.

 

On the African diaspora -- sure.  And so if you give your information, we’ll try to follow up with you.  We work with diasporas all over the world, and it’s a very valuable, you know, part of the community.  And we’ve found in various areas that they can add a tremendous amount.

 

Building on what Sam said a little bit, we’ve done a lot of work about how you can cut costs of remittances, too, so you don’t lose a lot in the transmission.  And, as he said, a lot depends on how you want to use funds.  And this is where we, as a development institution, can help.  It may be, do you want to use funds with a civil society community developing in countries.  Maybe it is that you want to invest in something. 

 

And so, one of the things we’re trying to do through the IFC -- there’s going to be a lot of business opportunities also in Sub-Saharan Africa.  You know, by the end of the year, we’ll be creating a new -- we have a new asset management corporation and a fund that’s drawing from sovereign funds and pension funds, and they’re going to be putting about $500 million to a billion dollars into Sub-Saharan Africa.  So maybe Africans can invest in Africa, too.

 

On the food security question, I’d like to echo what Josette said about thanking President Obama.  I saw him in the room.  I know this is a subject that he feels quite strongly about.

 

Just in practical terms -- and it’s also a fuller answer to Homi’s question -- by the end of the year, we’ll have a trust fund under these governance rules that you’ve talked about, put together, I think, with a starting, about 1-1/2 billion.  And here, this will be new money from the U.S., Canada and Spain.  I think the European Commission is adding funds, as well.

 

And there was a question about Russia.  Just so you know, a really great development is Deputy Prime Minister Kudrin is now coming back into the foreign assistance process, including some things in agriculture.

 

But in terms of focus, one of the opportunities, actually, is about 90 percent of the malnutrition is in 36 countries.  So, while this exists in lots of places, you really can start to hone the focus.  As Josette said, it’s Sub-Saharan Africa.  It’s also South Asia.

 

But one little point on India.  You know, about half the children in India don’t get enough food.  So, you know, people in this country tend to see India and China as always kind of, you know, these new emerging powers.  You start to get out of the cities, and you see that there’s often a lot of poverty there, too.

 

Now, obviously, part of this fund is to focus on agriculture production, not just on the malnutrition.  And here, I guess one of the things I would urge, since you’re from the State Department, is that, you know, one of the challenges we always had is there’s an understandable drive for donors to do things bilaterally, as opposed to multilaterally.  But one of the issues, I know, talking about the U.S. government is, you know, frankly, if you want to be more effective, if we can try to have some multilateral pooling -- it doesn’t mean we’re doing it all.  We can do it with lots of others players.  Frankly, we avoid this problem that everybody’s got to have a special flag.  And, frankly, the donors get overwhelmed in the process.

 

There was a quick question that we didn’t cover, on oil and food.

 

I guess I question the premise a little bit.  Oil prices went up.  Food prices went up.  Oil prices came down a little bit.  Some of the food prices were stickier, depending on the markets.  But oil prices have started to come back up.  And I, personally, think you’re going to see the fuel-food interconnection remain quite close.

 

And then there was the question from the Russian correspondent about threatening -- does this threaten, at least, Russia and the U.S.

 

Let’s divide this into risks and opportunities.  If I were in Russia, and I were looking at Central Asia -- which, by the way, about 40 percent of the GDP in some of the countries depends on remittances -- I’d be pretty concerned about the overall conditions of nutrition and development.  Because if there’s problems on your border, it’s going to come over the border in one form or another.

 

Similarly, for the United States, you’ve got issues with Central America, which, again, the United States always ignores Central America until the problem gets terrible.  Then we come in and get our hands burned.

 

So it would make a little of sense -- whether it be democracy issues, whether it be CAFTA, whether it be some of the Millennium Challenge Account that we try to support Central American integration and development -- and, by the way, if you think Mexico is pushing all those narcotraffickers away, where do you think they’re going to go?  They’re going to go to Central America.  So you better pay a little attention to that, too.  Or Haiti.

 

And if you’re in Europe, I guess I’d be a little bit concerned about the Mediterranean.

 

So those are risks.  But I wouldn’t only focus on risks.  I mean, part of the story is opportunity.

 

I mean, look, we’re just, we hope, coming out of a financial crisis that came from the developed world.  And where will sources of growth come from?  The developing world.

 

So when we’re talking about potential in the developing world, where we’re talking about a billion hungry people, we’re talking about kids that don’t get nutrition -- what capabilities, what inventions, what possibilities might those people bring?

 

So I wouldn’t only look at the risks, I’d look at this as a possibility for opportunity.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thank you.

 

Well, I apologize.  We have come to the end of our allotted time.

 

If any of the panelists would like 30 seconds for a last word.

 

Ms. Sheeran?

 

MS. SHEERAN: If I could.

 

I just want to really emphasize the nutrition point, and demonstrate one last kind of synergy.

 

This is a product we developed in India, with Indian scientists, made with local produce.  It’s a power-packed sweet mush, like a hummus that is filled with nutrition for children.  It’s been called the first climate-change food, because a parent can rip off the corner, squeeze this into a child’s mouth, and it will give them all the nutrition they need to keep their brains healthy.  Made with local produce.  You don’t have to add water.  It doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

 

There are no nutritional services to the bottom billion.  And I won’t even equivocate that statement.  There are no tools that a parent can buy in a village, in a drought or in a flood, to make sure their kids get enough nutrition.

 

I was just in the Philippines.  Seven million people displaced.  And there’s no product that doesn’t have to get added water, but all the water’s compromised.

 

So I think there is a huge win-win opportunity here for scientists in the developing world to develop the next generation of products that fits their culture, their religion, their local products, that takes nutrition technology and starts connecting it to the bottom billion.

 

So I just want to echo Bob Zoellick’s point that this is ultimately a win-win.  When people have to eat, it’s a business matter.  And if you can get this investment -- the logic of the investment right, you can help put Sam and I out of business, which would ultimately be good news.

 

MR. KHARAS: Mr. Worthington, you ready to be out of business?

 

MR. WORTHINGTON: Oh, I’d love to be out of business.  I don’t see it happening any time soon.

 

I think the key last message to get out there is that any food production is ultimately tied to the environment, and ultimately to environmental sustainability.  And that environment is changing.

 

So our ability to look at adaptation issues around climate change and tie it to the broad food security challenge is a longer-term challenge that is not going to go away.

 

And then the question is, what approaches to agricultural production are we putting in place, and to what extent are those approaches sustainable in the local environment.  And the challenge there is often large-scale approaches may not be as sustainable as we would like, given the changing local environment.

 

So I think this is another nudge to us to evolve our thinking to look at grow it locally, grow it better, and look that it could be sustained in terms of local resources.  And that challenge will simply be greater over time, and it requires greater investment now.

 

Thanks.

 

MR. KHARAS: Thanks.

 

Mr. Zoellick, a last word?

 

MR. ZOELLICK: I know Brookings has the foreign policy as well as the economic and the development side.  And so maybe this is a question for your foreign policy colleagues.  They often do work on ideas about the effectiveness of the UN, and reports on the UN Security Council, and other things like that.

 

My question is: how come there’s an assessment for UN peacekeeping operations, which is supposed to deal with the post-conflict environment, and there’s no assessment for the World Food Programme so they can get money to try to stop some of the conflicts from breaking out?

 

MR. KHARAS: I’ll be sure to pose that to our colleagues.

 

Please join me in thanking our panel very much for a stimulating discussion.

 

(Applause)

 

[end recorded session]




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