September 16, 2019
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Food Instability and Political Crises

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ECOSOC: United Nations Development Programme

Topic: Food Instability and Political Crises

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, an individual is considered food insecure when they lack regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life. The FAO also reported that 2.3 billion people were moderately or severely food insecure last year, nearly 30% of the global population. This constitutes a 350 million increase from pre-COVID-19 pandemic numbers.

In addition to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and disasters caused by climate change, a new challenge to international food security arose in 2022 with the war in Ukraine. The Russian Federation and Ukraine account for a large percentage of global wheat and maize exports, and the Russian Federation is a leading producer of fertilizers. Export controls, rising fuel prices, and violence and destruction preventing harvests have meant that the price of these commodities is rising. Skyrocketing costs mean potential famine in sub-Saharan Africa and the Near East and North Africa, where the populations most heavily rely on exports. Inflation and supply chain breakdowns, have been felt across the globe, so that even where food is available, prices put it put of people’s reach.

Food insecurity has a myriad of consequences including increased mortality, swelling numbers of internal and external migration, and rising income inequality. These all contribute to the focus of this committee: the prevention and mitigation of political crises caused by food insecurity. When people cannot feed themselves and their children and do not believe that the government is capable of giving them relief, they are more likely to take up arms against their neighbors or their government. Even localized civil unrest in agricultural centers can disrupt supply chains for a whole region, further exacerbating crises. Often popular uprisings, strikes, or mass demonstrations are met with harsh crackdowns by governments, which can further endanger life and violate human rights. This engenders further feelings of illegitimacy.

This committee’s assignment is to synthesize consequences of food insecurity that lead to political upheaval, and devise solutions that seek to alleviate food insecurity itself, while also averting and moderating political crises.

Useful Links:

UNFAO Hunger Factsheet:
https://www.fao.org/hunger/en/

UNDP Sustainable Development Goal 2:
https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals#zero-hunger

Global Report on Food Crises – 2022:
https://www.wfp.org/publications/global-report-food-crises-2022

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