G7’s US$4.5B malnutrition action plan a “fraction of what is needed,” Oxfam flags
29 Jun 2022 --- A decision by the G7 foreign ministers to spend US$4.5 billion in tackling malnutrition exacerbated by the ongoing war in Ukraine has failed to deliver what is actually needed, Oxfam charity and climate activists have flagged.
“Instead of doing what is needed, the G7 is leaving millions to starve and cooking the planet,” says Max Lawson, head of inequality policy, Oxfam. The decision was taken during the G7 three-day summit in the Bavarian Alps, Germany.
The initiative led by the G7 highlights its commitment to “protect the most vulnerable from hunger and malnutrition.” The project’s newly funded US$4.5 billion adds to more than US$14 billion spent to tackle global food insecurity in 2022.
Nonetheless, Lawson describes the figure as a “fraction of what is needed.” The G7 could have done so much more here in Germany to end the food crisis and prevent hunger and starvation worldwide.”
Protecting the most vulnerable
The G7 statement stresses the critical importance of secure access to ports in the Black Sea, ensuring free flow of agricultural products – including those from Russia – and delivering humanitarian assistance.
“We, the leaders of the G7, will spare no effort to increase global food and nutrition security and to protect the most vulnerable, whom the food crisis threatens to hit the hardest.”
“We reiterate our urgent call upon Russia to, without condition, end its blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, destruction of key port and transport infrastructure, grain silos and terminals, illegal appropriation by Russia of agricultural commodities and equipment in Ukraine and all other activities that further impede Ukrainian food production and exports.”
The leaders committed to scaling up essential nutrition services in countries with the highest burden of malnutrition. “We will fight against any speculative behavior that endangers food security or access to nutritious food for vulnerable countries or populations.”
Profiting companies should pay up
Additional actions are to avoid “unjustified restrictive trade measures that increase market volatility and thus risk food insecurity”. Lastly, G7 notes: “We invite all partners, including governments, international organizations, global and regional initiatives, research institutions, civil society, the private sector and philanthropy, to unite with us to ensure global food security and support the Global Alliance for Food Security.”
Oxfam agrees that more parties need to work together and tackle this issue. However, they are stressing the need for a clear action plan with new funding – not just from traditional donors, but from companies and others that have profited from the current spike in energy and food prices to address the underlying causes of global food insecurity and hunger.
“In addition, G7 needs to fund the US$46 billion global humanitarian appeal, which, despite increasing five-fold in the last decade, is only 20% funded today. They should agree to fill this funding gap of US$37 billion immediately,” Lawford notes.
“Half of the world’s population at risk for malnutrition”
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) previously flagged the expected rise of malnutrition, hunger and poverty caused by the war in Ukraine.
The support urgently required is a rapid money supply for humanitarian hunger and malnutrition relief, as the director at GAIN previously raised concerns about malnutrition reaching half of the world’s population. According to expert analysis, women and children are expected to be most affected by food insecurity.
Oxfam has also raised awareness on the issue and called for funding from the International Monetary Fund, as global malnutrition levels have reached a height not seen before.
With added urgency, the White House reports that 40 million more people could be “pushed into poverty in 2022.”
Even though this issue is global, people at the horn of Africa are expected to “suffer the most immediate needs.” While experiencing a record length of drought, 20 million people are expected to face starvation by the end of 2022, the White House underscores.
“This also brings nutritional impacts, as children are expected to require treatment caused by malnutrition.” The US government mentioned addressing these issues by continuing to provide food assistance and leverage financial commitments, yet argued that it is not enough.
Ignoring economic inequality?
In terms of food and hunger, Oxfam emphasizes that there are several approaches to tackle hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity on a global level. One example is to remove developing nations’ debts and tax the excess profits of food and energy corporations.
‘‘For every dollar in aid given, poor countries have to pay back US$2 to their creditors, often banks in New York or London making huge profits. The G7 should have canceled those debts to enable countries to spend money instead on feeding their people,” says Lawson.
“Most importantly, they could have tackled the economic inequality and climate breakdown driving this hunger. They failed to do any of this, despite having the power to do so,” he adds.
Additionally, the G7 statement also received criticism from climate activists, as their planned actions toward addressing the energy crisis include making exceptions to previously set climate protection goals. The earlier promise was to end public support for non-offset fossil fuel investments, which now was announced as “allowed in exceptional circumstances.”
By Beatrice Wihlander
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