I woke up this morning to some historic news:
The World Food Programme (WFP) has won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Peace.
“The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” the prize committee wrote in a statement announcing the award. “In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts” to deliver food assistance.
I have had the privilege of working with WFP – the world’s largest humanitarian organization – for many years. I regularly partnered with WFP officials in my roles at its two sister UN agencies in Rome: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
In graduate school, I designed and conducted original research – “Perceptions of global hunger among young adults in the United States” – at the request of colleagues at WFP.
And I have continued to work with them as a consultant on various projects. For instance, in 2018, I helped to promote their “Feed Our Future” ad campaign, which launched at the Cannes Lions festival to much fanfare.
The initial 60-second spot asked viewers to consider the potential that the world collectively loses each time a child dies or suffers from malnourishment.
It is a powerful example of how creativity can help address global hunger. WFP has always pioneered cutting-edge communications in the UN system and humanitarian sector. They are particularly skilled and daring in their efforts to get people to care about a problem that seems so complex and inherently remote. To not only call attention to an issue that makes most people want to avert their eyes but inspire audiences to act. I always relish the opportunity to work with them!
Earlier this year, WFP warned that the world was at risk of widespread famines “of biblical proportions” as a result of the pandemic. Acute hunger in the 88 countries where WFP operates is expected to reach 270 million people by the end of the year – an 82 percent increase on 2019. Countries beset with intersecting threats of conflict, climate change and now coronavirus will see the worst of it.
As a UN agency that relies entirely on voluntary contributions, WFP has to constantly make its case to support its life-saving work. (Hence, lots of communication campaigns.) WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley said today that this Nobel Prize win was “not WFP’s alone” and thanked the governments, institutions and individuals “whose passion for helping the hungry and vulnerable equals ours.”
He also told the media outlet Reuters that the prize was a clarion call “to our donors around the world” and “to the billionaires who are making billions off COVID.”
“It’s a call to action to not let anyone die from starvation,” he said. “It’s a call to action that we’ve got to save and help our friends, our brothers, our sisters around the world.”
Anyone – even Jeff Bezos – can click here to donate and help feed our future. Just $75 can provide a family with enough food for an entire month.
Because, as the Nobel committee stated, “food is the best vaccine against chaos.”