US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday called on the Group of 20 leading rich and developing countries to take immediate action to address the food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“We must take action to address the short-term food insecurity crisis and, just as importantly, the long-term drivers of food insecurity, including the link to climate change,” Yellen said.
“The speed and wisdom of our decisions now will affect whether we bring the current crisis under control,” she added.
Tensions over relations with Russia remain
The agenda of the two-day meeting of G20 finance ministers on the Indonesian resort island of Bali is dominated by the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine.
At the G20 financial meeting in April, officials from the United States, Britain, France, Canada and Ukraine walked out to protest the presence of Russian envoys.
Just last week, Moscow’s top diplomat walked out of talks with G20 foreign ministers.
Sergei Lavrov told his counterparts that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not responsible for the global hunger crisis and that sanctions designed to isolate Russia amounted to a declaration of war.
G20 members include Western countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia, while other member states, including China, India and South Africa, have been more muted in their responses.
Indonesia, the host of the financial meeting, said it tried to act as an “honest broker”.
Food insecurity and fertilizer supply are major problems
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has warned that the world is facing alarming global hunger due to war, export restrictions and the lingering effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Millions and millions — if not billions — of people depend on us,” Indrawati said.
“Fuel shortages are developing around the world. And we see that this has huge political and social implications,” she added.
The risk of a fertilizer supply crisis could worsen the food crisis even into 2023 and beyond, Indrawati said.
She suggested that the G20 could form joint ministries of finance and agriculture to deal with the issue.
However, Yellen said that existing organizations are up to the task.
“We don’t need new institutions. We need strong coordination, knowledge sharing, research and development, funding and action,” she said.
lo/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)