Caux Round Table Board Member Issues Warning on Food Insecurity Crisis Triggered by Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Our board member, Devry Boughner Vorwerk, in collaboration with the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm in New York City, has issued a report trying to estimate the likelihood of acute food insecurity later this year, given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the inability of Ukraine to export its harvests of grain, grain now in storage and grain which might be harvested later this year.  Already, there are fears in Egypt of political instability, which will be set in motion by food shortages.

Devry’s report notes that:

The number of people facing food insecurity globally will rise by up to 243 million by November or a total of 1.9 billion people, explains a new report, “Food Security and the Coming Storm,” from Eurasia Group and DevryBV Sustainable Strategies.  This report offers new forecasts and policy recommendations for this global crisis based on a collaborative approach among the partners using geopolitical scenario analysis, market modeling and issue expertise. Russia’s war with Ukraine has shocked agricultural markets, increasing food inflation and global hunger.  Combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, the war and countries’ responses to it are pushing global food prices even higher, heightening the risk of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

The report presents three potential trajectories for the Russia-Ukraine war: unstable stalemate, escalation and climbdown.  It estimates the impact of each on global food insecurity.  Notably, Eurasia Group’s most likely scenario, unstable stalemate (a 70% probability), is also the most grave for global hunger.

Even in the most optimistic scenario, climbdown (a 5% probability), which would assume a cease-fire and de-escalation, food insecurity in 2022 would still be higher than in 2021.

Prior to the war, levels of hunger had already surpassed previous records set in 2021, with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries and territories.

Probability Scenarios of Food Insecure Population by November:  

-Unstable stalemate – 70% probability -1.92 billion, +17.3%
-Escalation – 25% probability – 1.78 billion, +8.7%
-A climbdown – 5% probability – 1.51 billion, -7.6%

Despite this dire forecast, the report says a series of policies could help reduce human suffering in any war scenario—if the world can cooperate.  These include a concerted effort to keep food trade open with Ukraine and Russia, despite sanctions and other wartime considerations.

Devry Boughner Vorwerk, CEO of DevryBV Sustainable Strategies, underscored that point, noting that “while food aid is critical to address the immediate humanitarian crisis, this study also demonstrates the need to focus on local production zones at scale in impacted countries over the next six to 24 months.  The G7 and multilateral lending institutions need to dedicate targeted emergency funding to the greatest areas of production potential to ensure a sustainable food system going forward.”

The full report can be found here.