okonjoiweala21_Pavlo PakhomenkoNurPhoto via Getty Images_wheat fields ukraine Pavlo Pakhomenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The World Must Avoid Another Food Crisis

It is becoming clear that the Ukraine war’s economic and humanitarian repercussions – especially rising food prices – will be felt far beyond Europe. The international community must act now to prevent some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people from becoming collateral damage.

GENEVA – The war in Ukraine is causing immense, heart-wrenching human suffering. At the World Trade Organization, an institution based on the rule of law and established to help forge peace, we find the violence abhorrent to our fundamental principles. We echo United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for the bloodshed to stop, and we wish for a prompt and peaceful resolution of the conflict.

But even as we remain transfixed by the shocking and tragic images of Ukrainian cities under attack, and even as we commit to doing all we can individually and collectively to help Ukraine’s people, it is also becoming clear that the war’s economic and humanitarian repercussions will be felt far beyond Europe. We have a responsibility to mitigate these consequences proactively as well.

Even prior to the war, rising food and energy prices were straining household and government budgets in many smaller and poorer countries whose economies had also been among the slowest to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. New price spikes triggered by the conflict in Eastern Europe now threaten to cause poverty and food insecurity to rise. In these circumstances, the role of the WTO and trade in general, particularly for countries that are net food importers, is of paramount importance in preventing hunger.