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food crisis

Bank Spring Meetings highlight solutions to food crisis, conflict

Julia Ross's picture

Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

The World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings concluded Sunday, having brought renewed attention to the impact of the food crisis, challenges facing conflict-affected states, and progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, among other issues.

In case you missed one of the many announcements or discussions held over the last two weeks, here are a few highlights:

What will it take to confront global crises?

Vinod Thomas's picture

Three interlinked global crises—food, economic, climate—were high on the agenda of this year’s Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. At a conference organized by the Independent Evaluation Group and World Bank Institute, a panel of experts—Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner; Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute; Trevor Manuel, Minister, National Planning Commission, South Africa; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank; Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor, Government of UK— discussed not only the impact of each crisis, but crucially the links among them in seeking joint solutions.

Development Committee: Food Prices Remain Top Concern

Julia Ross's picture

Food prices are the biggest threat today to the world’s poor, World Bank President Bob Zoellick told reporters at an April 16 press conference following the meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank and IMF. “We are one shock away from a full-fledged crisis,” said Zoellick.

In their final communiqué, Committee members expressed concern that “overheating in some sectors, especially food and energy, is resulting in price pressures and volatility.”

Bangladesh: Mapping climate change and food security

Sarah Holmberg's picture

In a blog post by Molly Norris and Joshua Powell for the End Poverty in South Asia blog, they talk about Bangladesh as "ground zero" at the intersection of climate change and food security.

"The country is widely recognized as one of the places most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, which strains food systems alongside rapidly growing and urbanizing populations. Yet, despite these dual challenges, the World Bank expects Bangladesh will meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015," they write.

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The Food Price Threat to Poor Continues

Sarah Holmberg's picture

Otaviano Canuto writes about the Food Price Watch today on the the Growth and Crisis blog.

He writes:

“According to the World Bank’s Food Price Watch, a brief just released tracking food prices and poverty trends, global food prices are 36% above their levels a year ago and remain volatile, close to their 2008 peak.  Key staples going through the roof include maize (74%), wheat (69%), soybeans (36%) and sugar (21%)...For some of us, expensive food might mean we spend more money in the supermarket, but for millions of people around the world, it is a real threat. The poor spend most of their money on food. So think about Mexicans, whose daily diet includes a good amount of tortillas. Or a family in Mauritania trying to get enough bread amid the 40% wheat price increase of the last year.”

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CSO forum kicks off

Angie Gentile's picture

October 2 2009. World Bank Annual Meetings. World Bank Presiden Robert B. Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Dominque Strauss-Kahn meet with CSO/NGO representatives. Archbishop Noungane of South Africa moderates. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankRepresentatives from civil society organizations around the world converged at the Istanbul Conference Center yesterday for a special Townhall meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Just guestimating here, but I’d say there were about 300 CSOs in the room.

At the head of the table was moderator Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, who set the tone by noting how times have changed, with the World Bank and IMF engaging much more closely with CSOs these days.

The Archbishop posed three questions to inform the discussion: How can we work together to avoid another financial crisis? What can the Bank and Fund do to make sure the world doesn’t backslide? And how do shifts in power give those most affected by the crisis a chance to impact the response?

Critical investments in safety nets to rise

Sameer Vasta's picture

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Group Managing DirectorIn light of the global economic crisis, the World Bank announced today that its investments in safety nets and other social protection programs in health and education are projected to triple to $12 billion over the next two years.

Additionally, the Bank also increased its fast track facility for the food price crisis to US$2 billion from US$1.2 billion. As World Bank Group Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explains:

"The continuing risky economic environment, combined with continuing volatility for food prices, means for poor people the food crisis is far from over. Many poor countries have not benefitted from some moderation of food price spikes in global markets. The decision to expand the facility will help ensure fast track measures are in place for continued rapid response to help countries."

More information about today's announcements: