The UN’s top food official has urged billionaires and companies to help save 30 million people worldwide who risk dying out of hunger this year without help.
Executive Director of the UN Food Program, David Beasley, said that the organization needs $4.9 billion to feed those at risk for a year.
The World Food Program (WFP) is the United Nations’ food aid division and the largest humanitarian organization in the world to counter hunger and promote food security.
“Worldwide, there are over 2,000 billionaires with a net worth of $8 trillion. In my home country, the USA, there are 12 individuals alone worth $1 trillion,” Beasley told a UN Security Council panel on conflict-induced hunger.
“In fact, reports state that three of them made billions upon billions during COVID-19. I am not opposed to people making money, but humanity is facing the greatest crisis any of us have seen in our lifetimes,” Beasley pointed out.
A number of CEOs saw their net worth grow in the midst of a large market boom, led by the tech sector, even as the world reeled from the coronavirus crisis. According to the recent data Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos remains the richest person in the world with a net worth of $177.9 billion. In July, he was revealed to have added $13 billion in a single day.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are worth $115.4 billion and $93.7 billion, respectively, in terms of net worth, while the net value of Tesla CEO Elon Musk is valued at $88.9 billion.
Beasley stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had worsened severe food shortages resulting from years of war in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Nigeria. This, combined with conflict and climate change, meant that “more than ever, the 270 million people marching to the brink of starvation need our support,” he said, referring to 2021 as a “make-or-break year”
In an effort to help 138 million people and avoid what Beasley called a “hunger pandemic,” the WFP is collaborating with more than 50 governments to scale up their safety nets.
“It’s time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history. To show you truly love your neighbour. The world needs you right now and it’s time to do the right thing,” Beasley said.
As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, world leaders have committed to ending global hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Beasley praised countries around the world for their efforts to help their citizens during the pandemic, along with the economies of the G-20 and the IMF in halting debt repayments for developing countries.