Mobilise private finance to fight rising global food insecurity: deVere CEO

The war between Russia and Ukraine and the impact it has on global grain exports – which feeds billions each day – highlight the urgent need for mobilising private funding to ensure food security, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

The call-to-action from deVere Group’s chief executive, Nigel Green, comes as Citi Research reveals that Ukrainian grain harvests and exports this year could be down as much as 50% on pre-war levels. 

Meanwhile, the April 2023 edition of the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) Market Monitor shows the gradual decline over the past ten months of global grain and oilseed prices to levels prior to the war in Ukraine.

Both Russia and Ukraine were among the top producers of grains in the world before the start of the war in February 2022.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and the pandemic before it – has underscored the fragility and complexity of the world’s food supply on which billions of people live every day,” says Nigel Green.

“We expect that pressure will grow on the global food supply in the coming decade due to population growth, rising incomes in developing countries, disruption triggered by heightening geopolitical tensions, social unrest, labour shortages, soaring fertiliser costs, conflicting trade policies, and climate change.

“The current food crisis is, we believe, set to become the worst in a decade, meaning years of progress against poverty and hunger are being wiped out.”

He affirms: “We expect that over the next five years, rising food insecurity is likely to become a defining issue of our time.”

With so many variables, degrees of severity, and situations developing unexpectedly, governments alone will not be able to combat the worst effects of human-triggered climate change.

“Governments are best-positioned to develop, implement and manage policy, incentives, standards, metrics and regulations. And, yes, they must also provide top-level funding,” says the deVere Group CEO.

“But due to the tens of trillions likely to be needed for structural changes to global food systems, there will remain a major funding gap if we rely solely on the public sector.”

This is especially true as governments are still stretched with the unprecedented financial fallout of the Covid pandemic, for which no country was prepared and that upended economies globally.

Therefore, says Nigel Green, it is “essential to enable, unlock and mobilise private capital as a matter of urgency.”

To do this, the deVere CEO suggests that we need “cooperation between financial advisories, insurance firms, banks, wealth and asset managers, investment companies, fintech groups, banks and auditors, amongst others, to help unlock and mobilise the trillions of dollars of private finance that are urgently required.

“Without this, the level of funds required will simply not be there.”

The World Food Programme, on its website, notes that “The scale of the current global hunger and malnutrition crisis is enormous, with an expected 345.2 million people projected to be food insecure – more than double the number in 2020. This constitutes a staggering rise of 200 million people compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. Unless the necessary resources are made available, lost lives and the reversal of hard-earned development gains will be the price to pay.”

Nigel Green concludes: “A combination of factors including war, economic upheaval and climate change means that urgent private finance inflows are essential to ensure greater levels of global food security and stability.”

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