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Ukraine war unleashing ‘perfect storm’ of crises- UN chief

Ukraine war unleashing ‘perfect storm’ of crises- UN chief
Written by Maritime First

UN Secretary-General António Guterres says the world is now facing a perfect storm that threatens to devastate the economies of developing countries with the Ukraine war.

Guterres made this known while addressing a news conference in New York to present a report on the effects of the war in Ukraine on the world’s most vulnerable issues by the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG).

The UN correspondent of the newsmen report that the first detailed policy brief issued by GCRG was launched on Wednesday at UN headquarters in New York.

Speaking at the launch of the brief, Guterres said that the war had impacted on a world that was already witnessing increased poverty, hunger and social unrest.

According to him, the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance is a 32-member group, chaired by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, which includes heads of UN agencies, development banks and other international organizations.

He said that the work of the group was so important because the Ukraine crisis risks tipping up to 1.7 billion people — over one-fifth of humanity — into poverty, destitution and hunger.

“Ukraine and the Russian Federation provide 30 per cent of the world’s wheat and barley, one-fifth of its maize, and over half of its sunflower oil.

“Together, their grain is an essential food source for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people, providing more than one-third of the wheat imported by 45 African and least-developed countries.

“At the same time, Russia is the world’s top natural gas exporter, and second-largest oil exporter.

“The war has compounded the challenges many developing countries are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as historic debt burdens and soaring inflation,’’ he said.

According to him, since the start of 2022, wheat and maize prices have increased by 30 per cent, oil prices have gone up by more than 60 per cent over the last year, and natural gas and fertilizer prices have more than doubled.

Guterres said the report “shows that there is a direct correlation between rising food prices and social and political instability. Our world cannot afford this. We need to act now”.

The UN chief said that the policy brief insists on the importance of global cooperation in tackling the crisis, which, it says, “will leave deep and long-lasting scars”.

The report calls on all countries – as well as the private sector, NGOs and other actors – to recognise that “the very nature of increasingly common global shocks is such that countries are not individually responsible”, and that solutions need to be based on the global, rather than national, risk.

In light of the soaring cost of food, fuel and other commodities, all countries are urged to keep their markets open, resist hoarding and unnecessary export restrictions, and make reserves available to countries at the highest risk of hunger and famine.

The report calls on international financial institutions to release funding for the most vulnerable countries, help governments in developing countries to invest in the poorest and most vulnerable by increasing social protection, and work towards reforming the global financial system so that inequalities are reduced.

In addition, he said that the policy recommends that humanitarian appeals must be fully funded, and major reform of the international financial system is needed to pull developing countries back from the financial brink.

The crisis, depending on how the world responds, could also turn out to be an opportunity for the planet.

The policy brief acknowledges that, in the short term, strategic reserves of fossil fuels need to be released in order to stabilize prices and ensure sufficient supplies.

However, a ramped-up deployment of renewable energy would help to ensure that the kinds of energy prices rise currently being seen are not repeated in the future, whilst hastening progress towards a cleaner, low carbon, energy future.

 

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